S’mOreos and Brown Trouts

Since a road trip should generate at least two blog posts’ worth of content, I present our Family Quote Board – phrases uttered during our camping adventure.

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Ok I’ll tell you, but you have to promise not to freak out.

We will call them S’mOreos.  They will be awesome.

If you drive faster than 50, I’m going to have a panic attack and that will scare the children.

This meat is like gum but with horrible flavor.

Him: relax.  Me: I’m trying but you won’t let me.

Him: (talking about a log in the fire) It stayed hot for a really long time.  Me: I want that on my tombstone.

Promise not to throw up?  Ok, I’ll get the second bag of marshmallows.

I don’t think the health department would approve…

I have to release a brown trout.

I just want a hot shower and a salad.

Flaming Marshmallows

Perhaps the best byproducts of a good road trip are the epic tales of adventure that get told again and again, becoming family legend.  Here’s a peek into our first camping trip and the nicknames that everyone earned along the way…

Firestarter

Nothing good could come of his two favorite camping activities: whittling a stick with a pocketknife and poking roaring fires.  This kid seemed bound and determined to finish our trip with one less eye or finger than he started with.  Near misses included: pulling the knife straight towards his face while whittling; flipping a flaming log completely outside of the fire pit onto a pile of dry pine needles; and purposefully igniting his marshmallows so he could wave his hands and shout “IT’S ON FIRE, IT’S ON FIRE!”  I’m packing bubble wrap and safety goggles for our next trip.

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Happy Camper

We were floored to discover the vegetarian who’s afraid of spiders is a rock star camper.  She embraced it all — the dirt, the wildlife, the meat cooked on sticks (especially the meat cooked on sticks).  She dug through the dirt to choose the perfect worm, created a 9-hole pine cone golf course on our campsite, and happily sprinted for a bucket of water when Firestarter flipped the flaming log onto the pine needles.  Most impressive was the extreme skill with which she roasted marshmallows: fifteen minutes of patiently rotating the skewer to create the most perfect golden, melty treat.  She’s found her calling.

ImageDonut

The first morning of our trip, my husband left for what has to be the camping equivalent of a Saturday morning tee time: the early morning fly fishing expedition.  The kids and I ate cereal, played cards and wandered to the camp store to buy postcards.  Our intrepid fisherman returned home happy but sorely lacking in fish.

Later that afternoon it was the kids’ turn to fish and they each plucked two from the lake.  Emboldened by the adrenaline from hooking their first fish, they started talking smack.  “Wow, we both caught two fish, how many did you catch this morning, dad?”  “Zero fish.  We should call you bagel.  No, we should call you donut.”  “Do-nut.  Do-nut.  Do-nut.”  With the donut chant ringing through the pine trees, he grabbed a pole, added a worm and bobber, and a few minutes later, caught a fish.  It didn’t matter, the nickname stuck.

ImageCookie

The family decided my name had to be Cookie, as in the grizzled character who made the camp food in all the old Westerns.  Turns out, I love cooking in a cast iron skillet over an open fire.  I don’t know if it was the smoke or the abundance of bacon grease, but everything tasted so good and was so much fun to make.  I considered it training for when we undergo a kitchen remodel and are cooking on a hotplate for two months.  I think we’ll be ok…

After four days we headed home a changed family.  We were campers, nature lovers, fish hunters and hikers.  We were Firestarter, Happy Camper, Donut and Cookie.

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Summer

Let’s hit the beach!

In two hours a bell will ring, releasing my kids from their last day as first and third graders.

Summer can feel simultaneously expansive (so much free time!) and claustrophobic (so much togetherness!).  But instead of fretting about the inevitable messy house, bickering kids and the dastardly duo of “I’m bored” and “I’m hungry,” I’m going to surrender to the chaos and enjoy it.

We’re at the beautiful sweet spot of the kids being old enough to be really fun, but young enough to still want to play with us.  I am greedily soaking all of this up before they outgrow me and move on to friends that offer a better fit.

We walked to school this morning behind a mom taking her daughter to her final day in elementary school.  She got teary as they navigated the crosswalk for the last time.  Later today, my friend will watch her son graduate from high school and in a few months will send him off to college 3,000 miles away.  Evidence that time races by is all around me and I hope that this summer will be a chance to apply the brakes, if only for three sun-filled months.

The start of summer vacation feels a lot like New Year’s Eve – a blank slate with lots of promises of things we’re going to do.  I know my “surrender to the chaos” manifesto might seem laughable as I limp into late August, completely stir crazy and wondering if bourbon would go well in my morning coffee.  But for now, I am hopeful, perhaps a bit naïve, and very much looking forward to our adventures ahead.