Sunday, May 15, 2016

Ward campout

Miriam was so excited about the ward campout that she wrote a note to take to school, explaining that she'd need to be a car rider. I signed off on it at the bottom to make it all official (you never can tell).

It was supposed to drizzle all day so Andrew took the van to campus and picked the girls up on his way home, then we packed up the van and were on our way. Technically the campout started at 5:00 but we didn't get there until 6:00 and were among the first to arrive. We had a bit of a tussle about who got to stay at the camp site (a scout camp had set up in our spot shortly before we arrived and didn't want to move to a different site even though we'd had the site reserved and they were drop-in campers; we had to call the ranger who eventually convinced them to pack up and move elsewhere).

We set up our tents, built a huge fire, and made dinner. And when I say "we" I mostly mean I held the baby and everyone else did that other stuff.

The kids wolfed down their dinners so that they could move on to s'mores. We were supposed to bring a dessert to share and I think 90% of the families there brought graham crackers, chocolate, marshmallows, and roasting sticks. We brought lemon squares, another family made s'mores cookies, and the Greens made dutch oven peach cobbler.

Here are the kids enjoying the good ol' s'mores process:

Carolina and Rachel

Miriam had insisted on getting the jumbo marshmallows at the store, which made for very gooey s'mores. Her s'more broke when she tried to pick it up, which she wasn't thrilled about.

The men were really letting their creative juices flow, using Reese Peanut Butter Cups instead of a regular bar of chocolate, and even using two s'more cookies for the top and bottom of a mega-s'more, with more marshmallow and chocolate in the middle. Here's Andrew with what I think is a peanut butter cup s'more:

Zoë enjoyed getting down and playing in the dirt. She's cute so I took a billion pictures of her.

She found a rock (amongst all the other rocks) and was super proud of it so she had to show me:

And Daddy:

And me again:

She wanted to sit on the log she was standing by...

...And was soon joined by a little friend. Zoë thought it was pretty neat that this "big kid" wanted to play with her (since she's spent most of her life being told to go away).

She gave her friend a little hug just to show her how happy she was to have someone to play with:

It was a great moment. Meanwhile, the big kids were still over by the fire roasting what was probably their millionth marshmallow (each) and it got dusky and I should have turned on the flash but I didn't. Here's a picture of Miriam with her friend Parker, anyway:

And here are all the kids running off that sugar in the field by our campsite:

"Thank goodness for the Green girls," Andrew said. Can I get an amen?!

Camping can be quite overwhelming, what with all the cooking and cleaning and keeping kids from falling into the fire pit. It was nice to have some teenagers around to say, "Come on, all you little people, let's play kickball!"* There were 26 (give or take) children under the age of 12 so it was no small act of service those girls did by taking them all out to the field.

Our tent, which we purchased on Amazon for a very good price, is a pretty popular tent. Here you can see two of them (one is ours and the other belongs to our friends) but there were more of them present in our campsite (we thought that was pretty funny):

I took a selfie out in the field for my mom so I could show her my new glasses. Bigger glasses are "in" right now. I'm not sure I'm completely on board with this trend. I feel a little bit like Loonette (from The Big Comfy Couch) with them on, so I got a "safe" pair as well (as similar to my old pair as I could find).

Benjamin wanted a selfie as well:

Back at the campsite we roasted more marshmallows and allowed the kids to let their inner pyromaniac loose. Rachel almost lit her friend Carolina on fire by accidentally dropping some embers on her lap when she took her stick out of the fire, but for the most part the children remained unsinged.

Oh, the Greens (who were the masterminds behind this campout) also set up a glow-ring toss for the kids, which was a lot of fun! They were all happy to go to bed with their glow sticks (even if they weren't all happy about going to bed).

Rachel and Miriam got to stay up until well -past dark, enjoying the fire, the stars, and their friends.

Here's Miriam and Parker reading together:

These two love to research together (they're in the same class at school). They've especially been enjoying American history lately, spurred on by Miriam's love of Hamilton.

That Canadian history book I ordered came today so I excitedly presented it to Miriam who squealed, "Ooooh! A new history book!" as she took it from my hands. The word "history" is the biggest word on the cover so that's what she noticed first, but then she read on.

"Oh, it's Canadian," she said disappointedly, letting the book drop from her hands. "It thought it was going to be American history."

"That right there is exactly why I thought we needed this book!" I said. "Canadian history is cool, too. Just try it."

She sighed, picked up the book, and flopped on the couch with a grumpy look on her face, but by page three she was already begging to visit Vancouver (they have totem poles)** so...mission accomplished!

Anyway, back to camping...

Our campsite had a little bit of a slope to it, which meant that our tent ended up having a bit of a slope to it, which meant that by the morning our roomy 8-man tent felt like more of a squishy 3-man tent. The kids slid down in their sleep until they were all curled up in little balls next to Andrew. Here they are before that happened:

Poor Benjamin was so cold! He picked out thin pyjamas and although I told him to switch them for his fleece pyjamas he wouldn't. So I packed his fleece pyjamas for him, but when it came time to get ready for bed he refused to put them on, so he wore his thin ones. And then he couldn't stay inside his sleeping bag. I kept waking up to check on him and cover him back up. I was also worrying that he'd wet the bed all night long. Every time I heard our tarp crinkle I'd think, "That's a river of pee heading straight for me. I'm going to wake up in a lake of urine." (Andrew, Zoë, and I were sleeping downhill from those three, you see).

Fortunately, he stayed dry!

In the morning when he woke up (dry!) he refused to go to the bathroom and instead insisted that he wanted to "pee in the sor-yest!" (We'd allowed him a middle-of-the-night pee in the forest because that bathhouse was a trek from where our tent was).

Zoë stayed up until nearly midnight. I took her down to the game table to nurse because she was having a hard time settling down in the tent (why sleep when you can just crawl around and explore your new surroundings (dark is no deterrent for those inclined to explore (she was also interested in exploring the ground outside our tent but I wouldn't put her down and it was easier to hold her on my lap than to keep her still inside the tent))). No one had any complaints about her fussing in the night (though many parents admitted to playing "name that crying child" throughout the night). I heard several crying children in the night, including my own, but really she didn't fuss very much because this was where she got to sleep:

She stayed warm all night long and when she woke up she immediately knew where Mama was (so instead of crying she simply mauled me until I gave her what she wanted (it's always milk)). She didn't make a lot of noise, but she didn't sleep through the night either (no worries about that for those of you who thought that maybe she did).

I spent the whole night trying not to roll down the hill! I meant to swivel our heads around so that we were perpendicular to the incline (with our heads higher than our feet; that's how we situated the children (not that it helped them stay in place because they all slid down until they were nestled against Andrew's warm body)). I'd mentioned it to Andrew offhand at some point in the evening but completely forgot to actually implement my plan until after Andrew'd already fallen asleep, so we slept like we were getting ready to roll down the hill. It's harder to sleep like that than you'd think; I had the constant fear that either the baby was going to roll away from me or that I'd roll over onto her. I don't usually worry about rolling in my sleep because I usually don't roll in my sleep (having your arm extended (or even bent) by the baby's head makes it impossible really hard to roll over onto your stomach)...but last night could very well have been the exception to the rule.

By the end of the night I probably could have moved my whole bed up to the top of the tent to use the space the kids had vacated...but that was too much trouble.

Here's Zoë first thing in the morning after commandeering my water bottle:

She recently learned how to drink through a straw and thinks it's the best thing ever.

I left her with Andrew while I ran our sleeping bags down to the van. She thought this setup was far from ideal. This poor baby just doesn't like anyone else but me (honestly it's kind of draining).

Here's her face when she realized I had never intended to abandon her after all, and I was really, truly coming back for her (all this picture is lacking is her bouncing up and down while grunting like a caveman (that's how you know she really wants you)):

The kids were all roasting marshmallows before breakfast. The parents were like, "Don't fill up on marshmallows because you need to eat breakfast." And then we fed them pancakes and syrup, so...maybe we didn't need to worry about the marshmallows and graham crackers too much after all. Marshmallows. Syrup. What's the difference?

Here are the kids playing on a little seesaw they rigged up:

And here they are climbing onto a big stump:

And here's Miriam showing me "all the quartz" they found:

More seesawing:

Walking around the fire pit (after the fire had been extinguished):

These kids and their quartz! They kept trying to sell it (for $1.50) but we ended up leaving it all there like good little campers.

When we were packing up to leave I remembered that I'd forgotten to tell Benjamin to pack a sweater. It's a lot warmer at 5:00 in the afternoon than it is at 6:00 in the morning (the time we got up this morning) so it was an easy enough thing to forget. He certainly didn't need a jacket as we were leaving the house. I realized he'd need a jacket, however, so I stood by the front door for a minute, debating which jacket of his to bring.

"Let's see... Camo. Camo. Bright orange. Hmmm..." I thought to myself and reached for the orange jacket. This ended up being a very reassuring pick (because camouflage isn't always the best thing to wear when you're trying to keep track of kids who like to run through the woods).

As we were cleaning up camp one of my friend Magie's twins wandered off. When she first noticed he was missing no one was too worried. "I'm heading out to my car; I'll check the bathrooms and parking lot," someone said. "I'll go check by the field," and "I'll poke around over by this group of trees the kids like so much," others offered.

However, when no one was able to find him we started getting a little more frantic—he's two! How far could he have gone?!

We went to the neighbouring camp to enquire and sent a search party out on the trails. We spread out through the woods yelling his name (while still trying to keep track of our own charges). We checked the bathrooms again. We prayed. We looked some more. Things were starting to feel a little frantic.

How long does a two-year-old have to be lost before one calls the ranger? The police? The FBI?! The UN?!!!?!?!

Finally, he was located by his dad, about a mile from camp. He'd wandered down the ravine behind our camp, up the other side, and on and on and on (mostly sticking to the trail, thank goodness). His mom had thought she'd seen him wander the opposite direction, so that's where we'd focused our searching, but could have been the other twin she'd seen wander that way because they were dressed quite similarly. Whatever the case, I was immediately flooded with relief when I heard calls of, "Found him!" echoing through our camp, so I joined my voice to the chorus, "Found him!" and listened to the glad tidings ring through the trees.

"Found him! Found him! Found him!" everyone yelled as they gave up their search.

"Oh, Henry!" his big sister sobbed and collapsed to the ground when she saw him hiking up the hill to our camp holding his dad's hand.

"Well, that was the worst fifteen minutes of my life!" his mom said.

Fifteen minutes?! Is that all?! It felt like forever.

We were all quite happy to disband our search party and continue helping clean up the camp. In light of a missing toddler, picking up trash and carrying tent poles are happy tasks!

Here's Benjamin enjoying one last swing in someone's hammock before we left:

The last time we camped at Falls Lake (which, bee-tee-dubs, is where we camped last night) we found a nice swimming spot by the lake with a playground and a bathhouse and a swimming spot. We could not find that spot this time...but we stopped by the lake for a bit anyway.

"With Loonette and Molly! A clown and her dolly..."
"Oh, here we are our family."
It was a pretty successful camping trip!

End note: I'm totally in awe of my friend Rachel, who made a dutch oven mountain man breakfast for the whole camp. I would have been terrified of burning everything to smithereens (because if I was in charge of cooking for everybody that's exactly how things would go). Technically the young men were in charge of the camp so her husband (one of the YM leaders) was the one to really head things up, but he had to work this morning so he left her with all four kids and the clean up, which she did more cheerfully than I probably would have had the same task fallen to me. (Of course, everyone pitched in to help her load up all the gear required to cook for tens of people so she didn't have to do it all by herself, but still).***

* Naturally they didn't actually use these words. I used my narrative license to paraphrase what they said and--ba da bing, ba da boom--made them sound like old people. Just like that. I'm just no good at teenager-speak anymore. I knew I'd lost my touch at the tender age of 22 when someone half my age told me, "I love it when old people try to use cool phrases," after I'd said, "Oh, snap," or something like that. It's been all downhill from there.

 ** Yes, western states have totem poles as well, but British Columbia FTW!

*** In my own defence, Rachel's kids are approximately 4 years older than mine (ie. her oldest is 15 or so and her youngest is 5) so perhaps when my oldest are teenagers and my younger ones not in danger of choking on rocks, wandering off into the woods, or falling into the fire pit I'd feel more cheerful taking charge of cleaning up camp. Maybe.


  1. A. I am offended. You need to take those kids to live in Canada for awhile. I am glad the totem poles saved the day.
    B. You really need to get Miriam listening to some Arrogant Worms songs. Like "History was made by stupid people." And "The white house burned, burned, burned..." and other historical/hysterical gems.

  2. "We found a nice swimming spot with a playground and a bathhouse and a swimming spot..."

    I've got to get to bed!

    But I will also look for that CD because I have a feeling my girls will love "The War of 1812!" (though I'm not sure it's a song they should go around singing at the top of their lungs 'round these parts (not the best way to make/keep friends)). ;)

    1. No, it is reserved for singing quietly to one's self...

    2. Actually, their songs are so good at teaching that these is no "true" history, but only points of view, right? Because someone's Mexican-American War is someone else's Invasion of Mexico, right? :o)