Yesterday was the Great American Backyard Campout.
We decided to pack up the twins and our tent, and a carload of other things that one would need for one night’s worth of camping, (Yes, Mike, we really DO need that mountain of stuff!) and headed off to a local botanical garden that was hosting the event.
Thankfully we got there in time to snag one of the coveted parking spots that were in short supply and headed for level ground to pitch our tent.
While the girls had fun with a giant-sized set of pick-up-sticks (our tent poles), Mike tried to set up the tent without instructions (later we found them attatched to the INSIDE of the tent!) and I tried to keep the girls from poking any eyes out with the tent poles, pulled them away from trying to demolish neighboring tents, and plucking various bits of flora and fauna (or the by-products thereof, a.k.a. ‘droppings’) from their dainty little fingers, while spritzing them and myself with herbal bugspray.
Finally the tent was up and the girls were eager to get inside it and explore. This would be their first grown-up tent. Halle immediately flung herself at the ‘windows’ and lounged face-first into them, squooshing her face into the mesh to make funny faces at the outside world. Zanna fussed over the proper placement of the sacred purple ‘piddows’, while Mike collapsed in an exhausted heap.
He had schlepped enough equipment that would normally take three sherpas to get it up Everest.
We then piled outside, after prying Dada from the tent floor where he had collapsed, and headed for a bench for a picnic dinner.
Copious servings were offered to the garbage fairy, by way of gravity.
After collecting the fairy’s offering and dropping them in her ‘in-box’, we explored a little, pulling the girls away from trampling prize rosebushes, snatching other childrens’ crayons, or falling into the koi pond.
Then it was time for the reptile show.
This is what originally made me think this would be a good outing, the tipping point, as it were.
A lady was hired by the park staff to show off various reptiles: an alligator, a turtle, snakes and other scaly critters.
After cautioning us to be very quiet so the critters wouldn’t be spooked, she took them out of their cages and walked around with them. So far, so good.
And then the girls learned they would not be able to pet the alligator or other critters.
A four-alarm fire then broke out, minus the fire, but plus all the sirens and whistles. At least that’s what two very disappointed toddlers sounded like as we carried them away, howling at full-throttle and weeping pitiful baby tears.
It was definitely time to break out the marshmallows!
When they mentioned s’mores in the event description, I had thought there would be a bonfire and so I bought some extra-extra long sticks with which to roast our marshmallows and not get singed kids.
Nope, no bonfire, so we ate the marshmallows raw. Later, park staff came around with trays holding pre-made s’mores, which the girls loved.
They loved smearing them on their faces, on their shirts, on their hands, and showing off the half-chewed remains still in their mouths. Gack!
After wiping up the sticky mess we decided it was high-time for bedtime!
Imagine trying to get two cranky toddlers to sleep while other older kids are running all around, shining flashlights into our tent and generally making loud noises.
Finally, peace decended upon the valley once more.
And then the temperature dropped.
Luckily I had brought their summer longsleeve pj’s, but it got REALLY cold that night, and the girls still haven’t caught on to using blankets, so Mike and I each snuggled with a girl to share body heat and somehow we all made it to morning.
5:30 am, crack of dawn, and our Halle alarm went off. Loudly.
Ten minutes later, our Zanna snooze alarm went off, too, so we put them in the car while Mike dismantled the tent and re-schlepped everything to the car as we waited for the park staff to finish making coffee and bring back the spoils of a donut run.
Then we went home where I got to take a nap before taking the girls blueberry picking at a playdate.
I don’t like camping, I usually end up cold, wet, miserable and with a sore back, but the girls loved it! So I guess we’ll be doing it again!
I think ‘masochist’ must be part of the Mama job description.