It’s French Toast Friday!
The burden of our family crisis has fallen on Shaun, who is across the country at the moment, performing amazing feats of compassion, advocacy, and stamina, despite extreme exhaustion. The kids miss her fiercely. Dilemma. Need to protect the kids somewhat from the emotional aspects, reassure them of their importance, find ways to stay connected despite the impossibility of much phone time, and also still do things where we can be reached at any second because she needs our help.
The Camp In is born.
The Camp In has all the hallmarks of the Camp Out, including toasting marshmallows for S’Mores over the stove. Most brilliant of all, the bathroom is down the hall, and we can have movie night from our sleeping bags.
As you may have guessed, my preferred form of Roughing It involves mints on pillows, maid and turn down service, and adjustable ambient temperature.
We set up air mattresses in the living room to set the tone, have a traditional camp dinner of tacos or pizza, and throw away the plates and silverware (oh the JOY). Then we play cards with the lights low or use flashlights before crawling in our sleeping bags and smashing together to watch the movie in the dark. Running commentary and tickling is a must: I’m not sure any of us remember the actual movie. Talking Penguins? A little weasly looking animal with a crown?
Then we tell stories, lots and lots of stories, mostly about when the kids were little: the ‘remember when’ stories. After those, there are the scary stories, and after THAT, there’s my story about the imaginary perfect place we are that is so safe and has everything a kid could want. We point out star constellations on the ceiling until we stop answering each other…because we’ve all fallen asleep holding hands near the rushing river , beneath the blanket of stars, covered by the warm soft breeze rustling through the pine trees.
We have excellent imaginations.
It’s a perfect compromise for the extenuating circumstances. No bugs, no dirt, no freezing in front of a camp stove that fired right up at home but has crossed it’s wire grid arms and refuses to light at 6am for coffee and pancakes. No scared kids who have to go to the bathroom at 2 am, just when the flashlight batteries died. No worrying that Shaun can’t reach us.
The only thing missing is the tent. I’m tempted to move the furniture and set it up. Wouldn’t have to worry about it blowing down on top of us (Idaho). Or having it be 15 degrees at 6am, and 85 at noon (Montana). Or being swarmed by no-see-em’s while trying to set up (Modesto, CA).
This so works for me. It’s our third camp in. I’ve only been stepped on 6 times, and all 6 have missed my head. It’s a sign.
Micah picked sleeping on the couch, and Lee Lee and I set up in front/beneath him. Last night he couldn’t find me at 4 am (I covered my head with a bathrobe to get that ‘total dark’ experience) and he was whapping the mattress around my head feeling for me. Missed me every time! I thought he was having trouble picking his way through the bedding, and he thought I cheated and went to sleep in the bedroom. Foot and shoulder blade finally connected, reassuring us both. Of course we both jumped out of our skins, he thinking I was gone, and I thinking he was trying to miss stepping on me, but it was still happy. I was glad he wanted to know I was there, and he was glad I didn’t cheat and jump ship. No harm, no foul.
Christmas likes it. Four beds to roam and choose from. Kibble in the cupboard. Waiver from enforced migrating for food. Sleeping with the ENTIRE pack at the same time.
Morning comes and we wake up with bed hair and laugh at each other, accuse each other of snoring and try to prove it with exaggerated imitations (nu-uhn! YOUR snoring was the worst! It was like THIS.) or in the case of ever-practical Lee Lee, presenting a recording of snoring she made with her cell phone. Not sure if it’s real snoring or secretly faked snoring, but it doesn’t matter. It’s the teasing and poking that are important.
Camp Ins? Next morning? One word: WAFFLES.
After breakfast (here it comes…wait for it…) we throw the dishes away AGAIN.
I could really get into the whole dish tossing thing. Now if only they made disposable pots and pans.
We walk Christmas through the ‘forest’. Then we go to the barn for a trail ride. (Tiny is better! Thank you Lilli for sharing him with us!)
Come home and wow, it’s home. They can play basketball, hang out with friends, go to the pool, or make lanyards. So far, Lee Lee has set the family record at 14 lanyards completed.
Camping In. It’s a good thing.