Camping in the back yard

One of the first things we did in 2014 was to sleep outside. Not outside in the wild, or in the woods, or even at a camp site. Just outside.

Finn had never been camping, and neither had our friends’ girls, so the group of us decided that our back yard would be a good place to start… a test to see how the kids would handle it — and, well, the adults, too. After all, the last time Keith and I had gone camping was in Maine about a decade ago, and the last time my close friend Lisa camped was with me on a road trip we took out west when we were twenty-five.

So we ordered a tent, borrowed another, bought a couple of sleeping bags, special little lanterns, a fire pit, and marshmallows… and then waited for the temperature to drop enough to be comfortable. Luckily, on the last weekend before break ended, it cooled down to 60 degrees — our first chilly night of the season.

We skewered veggie kabobs and set up the tents, first the small one for the kids,

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Getting ready to camp in the back yard!

After the tents were up and the kids had loaded theirs with sleeping bags, pillows, flashlights, stuffed animals, books, and a soccer ball, we tried to enjoy a nice dinner outside…. But the kids ate quickly and then ran off to play, riding a scooter, a motorized bike, and a ziggle around the patio until Finn, in all of his excitement, landed right into the unheated pool. It was a bit of a downer to say the least — something that only a few gooey S’MORES could improve:

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And then it was time to play music around the campfire…

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…although the truth is that it was really about 77 torturous rounds of JUST the chorus of “Jingle Bells” sung around the fire pit Keith had picked up that day from Home Depot.

As if we couldn’t get any more authentic, to finish off their first night of “camping,” the kids watched Wall-E on a laptop inside their tent…

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…and then yelled out non-sensical rhyming couplets past midnight until I finally had to threaten that I would take Finn inside the house to sleep.

At some point things grew quiet and the kids dozed off, but as for me, my shoulders were all that kept falling asleep, and Keith was up in the middle of the night trying to repair a broken well pump that he heard going off on the other side of the garden.

When morning finally arrived, the adults were up early, eager to be off the ground, and I trekked through the yard and back into the house to press some strong coffee and make some oatmeal walnut scones. As I headed back out, I saw Finn darting back and forth between the two tents. Apparently the kids were sneaking things (like my water bottle) out of ours to hide in theirs:

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It was a far cry from real camping, but — clearly — they had fun. A good start to 2014.

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