Well, I'm back. Back from a weekend of "roughing it" out in the wilderness. The final who rah for the summer - and I hope, the entering in to the beginning of Fall. While it definitely wasn't as relaxing as I thought it would be - which it never is - we did have a lot of fun.
Our journey began Friday afternoon as soon as the kids and I rushed out of school to get home and pack. We got home, packed our clothes, packed the car, and made sure we had everything just as it began thundering, lightening, and pouring down rain. Perfect. I'm just glad we managed to pack the car before all of that mess started - cause the wind was terrible. It didn't stop us, though, and we loaded in to the car to head towards my parents' house.
When we got to my parents', the storm had stopped. The clouds told me the weather was far from over, but I hoped it would move on before we arrived at the camp site. There were still a few hours of daylight left, but a much longer than anticipated stop at Wal-Mart, gas refills, and a quick run to McDonalds soaked all of that up - so it was completely dark by the time we found our camping spot.
The next couple of hours were MISERABLE due to the fact that just as we got the tents unpacked - and started to put them up - the storm arrived once again...
Peanut took this photo from the car. She was staying nice and dry with the little kids while the rest of us were getting hammered with wind and rain while trying to put up the tents. Thankfully, with some help, I was able to get my tent up. My parents weren't as lucky, and finally gave up and decided to sleep in their SUV. It was rough first night. The winds blasted us all night long, there was no time to put up air mattresses, so the kids and I - and my brother who decided to join us - threw our sleeping bags down to try and get as much sleep as we could.
It was probably one of the longest nights of my life. I just couldn't sleep hardly at all - and each time I opened my eyes, I hoped I'd see daylight. Finally, the daylight started to appear at 6:30am...so I got up. And this was what I saw from my tent...
Feeling the cool, calm air and seeing this view made the night before all worth it. It's these moments that make me love camping so much. The two little figures you see are Butter and my brother. They had already walked down to the lake to stake out their fishing spots. I took a moment to take it in, then rushed up the hill to the bathrooms.
Within an hour, everyone else had made their way out of whatever hole they'd crawled in to in order to get some sleep - and the coffee was ready to go. Due to Oklahoma still being under a burn ban, we weren't able to light a camp fire. That really sucked - because the late nights and early mornings were actually pretty chilly...and it would have been nice to sit around a fire. Thankfully, though, my mom had decided to bring her electric kettle with her - so coffee was a possibility. Gotta love my mom.
We got our day started by taking the kids down to the water for some fishing. Jelly has been dying to go fishing since our last camping trip. She's got both her mother's and father's and grandfather's blood in her - that's for sure. It didn't bother her a bit to reach in to a pot of worms and dig out a fat one for me to put on her hook. She still hasn't quite grasped the concept of casting - but that's what Momma is for. Jelly also decided she was too grown up, now, for her Barbie fishing pole...and ended up with a "big girl" pole to use instead. After a short ten minutes, this happened...
Jelly caught her very first fish - ever. As you can see in the first pic, she's very excited. That was until the fish started flopping around - causing her expression in the second pic. She didn't like it when the fish moved. She managed to catch another fish just a few minutes later, and then she was done fishing for a while.
The rest of the day was spent listening to the radio, relaxing, laying in the sun, chatting, reading some of my kiddos' journals I had taken with me, reading the first chapter of my book study book, and enjoying the sight of my kids having a blast...
Peanut definitely takes after me. She sat like that for the majority of the day finishing up the last book of The Hunger Games. She read almost three quarters of the book in one day.
Just before dinner, the boys came up from fishing - and Butter brought along a little something he'd manage to catch while fishing...
He was so happy. Not because of the teeny tiny fish he'd caught - just in general. He was having a blast. He's turning in to such an outdoors-man. I hardly saw him while we were there, because he was down by the lake with his granddad and uncle fishing.
All of the kids were genuinely happy, and that's what makes trips like this so much fun. There's no arguing or fighting. Everyone is always laughing.
The last time we went camping, Jelly spent most of the day literally digging in the dirt. Apparently, she's too grown up to do that anymore. When she wasn't running around, watching the guys fish, or getting her hair fixed by my sister - she was doing what she's been doing a lot of, lately. That would be practicing her writing skills on her Magna Doodle...
She is now able to write her full name perfectly - without any backward letters. And I just have to say that Magna Doodles are probably the best tool EVA for helping a child practice their writing. By the time we left, my mom had decided she had to get one for my niece and nephew who also enjoyed drawing on it. I was amazed at how much time Jelly sat just like this. It wouldn't surprise me a bit if by this time next year, she's not sitting on a camping chair reading a book just like me and her sister.
The only issue we had while there was the swarm of bees that kept flying around. My sister was the first person to get stung, because she thought it was a good idea to grab one off of a pop can. Shortly after, my niece got stung on her belly. Then, during dinner, my nephew got stung when he flicked a bee off of his ear. But, the winner of the bee sting competition went to Jelly. While eating a hot dog, she came to me and told me there was something wrong with her hot dog because it was hurting her tongue. Then she screamed - and I had her open her mouth just in time to see a chewed up bee mixed up with chewed up hot dog. She spit out the bee - and I pulled the stinger out of her tongue. Thank goodness no one was allergic! Poor baby. Thankfully, chewing on an ice cube took the pain away, and she was back to her old self in a few minutes.
That night was a lot more comfortable than our first night. We were able to blow up the air mattresses, and get everyone nice and settled. The temp dropped down in to the fifties that night...and I loved having to snuggle in to my sleeping bag to stay warm. Something I've hadn't experienced with camping before - because the past few times we've gone, it's been so dang hot.
I didn't get up until 8:30 yesterday morning. It felt nice to get some sleep. My dad, brother, and Peanut went to the store to pick up breakfast for everyone. Unfortunately for Jelly, the bees decided to join us again for breakfast, and she ended up with sting number two on her elbow...
It's hard to see in the photo, but as you can tell by the look on her face - she wasn't happy about it.
After packing everything up it was around 1pm - and definitely time to head home. We got home a little after 3pm, and we were all exhausted and ready for a nice refreshing shower. I had to coat myself in aloe gel because I had apparently caught a LOT more sun than I thought I did. My shoulders are a little tender, but at least I have a nice tan to last a little while as fall approaches. I got busy getting my lesson plans done shortly after - and I managed to get all of my work done before dragging myself to bed at 9pm last night.
Every camping trip is a new experience, and I've discovered that I love doing it. I learn something new each time - like how important it is to take some warm clothes, despite what we think the weather will be like. Don't camp near trees that sprout little blue and orange fruits that attract bees. Make sure there is no need to stop at Wal-Mart before heading to the camp site. And always make a point of going camping when the evenings are cool and the days are warm.
Now, it's time to get back to reality. It's going to be a long week - but I'm ready for it.