Josée in Ottawa


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Camping: I Think We’re Doing it Wrong

Alternate title: We’re a Bunch of Wusses

*I just found this one in the drafts folder and thought it might be nice to forget about cold and snow for a minute!*

 

Not our camping trip. "Camping" by Roderick Eime, Flickr Creative Commons

                       Not our camping trip!                                    “Camping” by Roderick Eime, Flickr Creative Commons

The first sign that we might not be a camping family was that we each insisted on bringing two pillows. I should have called it right there. But I had a vision (had I been silly enough to share it with Hubby he would have call it a delusion): the four of us by the side of a pristine lake, each having brought only what we could fit in our backpacks, the kids frolicking in the water, Hubby and I relaxing on the shore, having possibly even travelled there by canoe.

Before you call me crazy, know that I have learned a thing or two about myself and my children over the last few years, and so I also had a more realistic, attainable vision (though apparently Hubby knows us best -he actually did call this one a delusion): the four of us in a provincial park, no more than five lots away from the bathrooms, sleeping in a ten-person, two-room tent (if the kids are in the same room together, no one is getting any sleep) equipped with cushy air mattresses, having travelled there in our car over a distance of no more than 100 kilometres.

When I tried to sell Hubby on the realistic vision he shook his head and said, “You and the kids will hate it.” On some level, I must have known he was right; I never had the confidence to put my money where my vision is and gear up.

And then my parents bought a trailer.

I asked my Dad if he would set it up for us for a few days  since our car doesn’t have the capacity to tow a trailer, not to mention that we have no idea what we’re doing. He graciously agreed, and we found ourselves spending two nights on the shores of the St. Lawrence river in a 21′ foot trailer. Thanks to my mom, the trailer came equipped with the following, in addition to a bathroom and queen size bed:

  • plates, cups and cutlery;
  • condiments; tin foil, garbage bags;
  • marshmallow sticks and at least ten bags of marshmallows (my mother refuses to acknowledge that my kids are pukers);
  • more Tupperware than we have here at home;
  • a stove with three burners;
  • an oven;
  • a 21″ flat-screen television and a DVD player (sadly no blue-ray – the kids were forced to survive on SpongeBob videos alone);
  • a mix-master (“In case you want to make a cake”, my mom said. Sometime I wonder if she’s ever even met me.)
  • two containers of Rice Crispie squares;
  • one container of homemade soup.

Here is what we brought, in addition to the aforementioned pillows:

  • enough food to last a week;
  • enough clothing to last us each a month;
  • a Rubbermaid bin full of Play-Doh and Play-Doh accessories;
  • three sleeping bags;
  • three flashlights that provided ten minutes of light each before the batteries burned out;
  • four camp chairs;
  • sunscreen, bug spray, children’s Advil, and children’s Benadryl;
  • Bunny.

What we didn’t bring:

  • booze (looking back on the camping I did when I was in high school, booze seemed to be a key ingredient to ensure a good time- perhaps this is where we went wrong);
  • Tylenol.

Here’s what we learned:

  • We are not a camping family.

We had reserved the only lot in the park without one square inch of shade. The kids weren’t interested in playing on the beach, swimming, playing at the playground or doing anything else we suggested. All they wanted to do was fight over the Play-Doh, but they had to do it sitting in the blazing sun.  I fought with them every hour on the hour when it was time to reapply sunscreen.

To offset the day’s blazing sun, it rained the minute we tried to start a campfire. The first night I shared the bed in the camper with B.G. while Dan and Bonhomme slept in a puddle in our small, leaky tent. B.G. couldn’t fall asleep and spent half the night crying about it. On night two we switched kids (though I still got to sleep in the bed – no way was I sleeping outside in the tent! So much for my “vision”). Bonhomme slept like a baby but he kept elbowing me in the kidneys all night.

The best part of the camping trip occurred when we left the actual campsite and visited Upper Canada Village on day two. We expected to blow through the village in a couple of hours, but the kids loved the working sawmill, the horse-pulled boat ride and exploring the houses, and we ended up closing the place. I’ve tried unsuccessfully to block the rest of the weekend out of my mind.

Hubby was right all along. We’ve decided that on our next camping trip, we’re going to skip the actual camping.


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Summer Fun, Family Style.

The reality never quite lives up to the fantasy, does it? You’ve planned a wonderful outing for the family. Lunch, snacks, and suntan lotion are ready to go. The car is full of gas, the route is laid out. You are going to have some FUN! The kids are excitedly running around gathering up hats and toys. It’s go time. And then…

And then it slowly starts to unravel. One child can’t find his favourite hat. The other can’t find her sunglasses. You find substitutes but there is a bit of grumbling. You’ve got them in the car; one decides they need to go potty one more time. Back in the car, you’re three blocks from home when you realize you forgot the bag containing lunch. An extra spin around the neighbourhood and this time you’re really on your way!

Fifteen minutes into an hour-long car ride one child won’t stop calling the other names and the other is screaming. You pretend they haven’t just had breakfast and raid your stash of snacks just to get ten minutes of peace. The child sitting behind you won’t stop kicking the back of your seat and you’re two kicks away from pulling over on the side of the highway and strangling both children right there.

After another potty break for the child who refused to go before you left and a Tim’s break for much needed coffee for the grown ups (and a box of Timbits to assure another ten minutes of quiet) you’ve arrived at your destination.

One child is thrilled to be there (a sentiment that lasts approximately five minutes until he realizes that you ran out of snacks during the car ride over and you refuse to pull out lunch since it’s only 9 a.m.) while the other proclaims that “this place is soooo boring” and wants to head home immediately. You plaster a smile on your face, grit your teeth and exclaim, “We are going to have so much FUN!”. You fail to notice that all the other parents are going through the same thing and assume that every other family on the beach is having a great time.

After an hour of listening to one child complain that they’re starving and the other complain of boredom, you decide that 10 a.m. is a perfectly acceptable lunch hour and set out the picnic. You’ve packed two ham sandwiches and two tuna sandwiches; both children want bologna. You eat the packed lunch and spend $34.50 on hot dogs and french fries for the kids; they eat approximately half a hotdog and six fries between them before declaring themselves full. Ten minutes later they spot another child eating an ice cream cone and act like they can’t live without having one too. You can’t live with the whining so you give in, handing over another $7.10 in the process.

Half an hour later one of the children is puking on the beach.

At least there’s plenty of sand around to cover it up.

By 11 a.m. everyone is cross and exhausted. You throw in the towel and head home. The car ride is eerily silent; the kids can sense that mom and dad are right on the edge. When you get home everyone gets sent to their respective rooms to decompress.

The next day the kids tell grandma about their outing and declare, “It was so much fun!!”

You know that you’ll do it all over again next year.

glasses