7 Butters in a Tent ~ Part II

family camping

Okay now, where was I? Oh yes, camping.

So, as it turns out, packing for camping was not nearly as hard as I imagined it would be. Considering the fact that all our meals were coordinated and prepared by the big amazing group that we went with, and I was only in charge of one side dish (potato chips), it cut out a huge amount of stressful planning. Anyone who knows me knows that I am not a planner. I’m sort of a “wanna be” planner. Like, I can totally see how much easier my life would be if I actually did plan, and if I was good at it. But I’m not. And anyways, that is neither here nor there because I didn’t have to plan meals so I was pretty psyched. The biggest and best advice people gave us leading up to the camping trip was to not get there after dark on the first night because it is a huge pain in the neck having to set up camp in the dark. So at least we didn’t do that.

Just kidding, of course we did that! Did you really think that I was going to be able to pack up 5 kids to survive in the woods for 3 days and actually leave my house on time? I can’t even get them to school on time and all I have to do is pack them Cheez-its and a juice bag. I was literally still doing essential camping laundry when my husband got home from work early, so we could leave early, and we could get to the campsite early. (Seriously, does he know me at all?)

Relatively speaking, though, the first night wasn’t too bad. My 5-year-old only screamed and sobbed hysterically for about 20 minutes (at approx. 10:30pm) begging to be taken home, claiming that she hates the woods, and demanding to know why we were doing this. I tried my best to remain calm and to soothe her in my super quiet camping voice while explaining how much fun it was going to be to sleep in a freezing cold tent on an uncomfortable air mattress with the entire family and no television.

Saturday morning I realized that air mattresses don’t stay inflated very well. Somehow during the night I became entangled in a blanket, and the air mattress that I was sleeping on (along with 3 children) deflated just enough so that we all rolled to the middle and then kind of became folded up like a taco. Which, you know, whatever, I could have stayed sleeping like that if my alarm hadn’t gone off at 5am waking 5 out of the 7 of us up from a dead sleep and setting off the scramble of a lifetime as we tried to locate the phone amongst the half-deflated mattress and tangled blankets. The rest of Saturday was a delightful mix of Bocce Ball, beer, and bonfires. There was only one dodgy spot when my girls got into a kick fight in the bathroom…but it was just a quick little scrap with no blood shed, so it’s almost like it didn’t even happen. Dinner was so great, too, and at least none of my kids puked all over the ground while we were in line.

Kidding again. Of course one of my kids started puking in the dinner line. There I was loading up my plate with hot dogs and hamburgers and steak tips with one hand, and balancing my 3-year-old on my hip with my other hand, when I heard the first tell-tale “erp”. Holy Mother of God! She’s going to ralph! I’m pretty sure everyone in line was psyched because, really, nothing is more enjoyable than standing in the woods all starving and dirty and having someone else’s kid vomit all over your shoe.

On Sunday I realized just how dirty we were when we made a quick family trip to the store. As soon as we got out of the car and were among people of the non-camping variety we suddenly looked like dirty scrappy people who lived in the woods. I tried to confidently embrace our filth and pretend that we were simply part of some grubby yet peace-loving cult, but of course my boys started wrestling in the parking lot which meant that we were really part of some grubby and belligerent cult. We quickly about-faced and beat it back to the safety of our smelly tent.

Monday morning we were ready, but sad, to leave. Packing up wasn’t nearly as bad as I anticipated. And at least one of the boys didn’t decide at the last minute to jump in the lake fully clothed.


Other than the tent, the deflating air mattresses, the filth, the bugs, and the soaking wet 9-year-old, it was seriously the BEST weekend ever. The group of people that we went with (all 250+ of them) are absolutely, hands-down, the greatest people around. I would sit in my own filth around a bonfire and drink a beer with them any day. As for next year’s trip, I can sum it up in one sentence: There will be 7 Butters in a rented RV.


7 Butters in a Tent ~ Part I

An old camping trip with my sister and brothers...being eaten alive by bugs! (My other brother is taking the picture.)

An old camping trip with my sister and brothers…being eaten alive by bugs! (My other brother is taking the picture.)

So we’re going camping this weekend.


As in “sleeping-in-a-tent-by-the-light-of-the-moon” camping. This seemed like a good idea about 3 months ago when we signed up, now I’m starting to see my life flash before my eyes. We’re not typically campers. And by that, I mean that we don’t camp. At all. Ever. Even my husband (who can leap tall buildings in a single bound, and who I’m pretty sure could climb Mt. Everest with no training while wearing shorts and flip flops) has never camped. The only one of us in the entire family who has ever slept outside in a tent is me. Me. And that was way back in the day when all I had to do to prepare for camping was to grab my pillow, get in the back seat of the car, and complain about the long drive. I grew up camping. Loved it, loved it, loved it. Until one fateful weekend when my sister and brothers and I were all in our 20s and we decided to drive up to the mountains and camp on our own. We grabbed the old tent, a few sleeping bags, packed some snacks, and we were off. Big mistake. Holy crap, did it suck! It will forever be remembered as the camping trip that made us all hate camping (and wonder why we ever liked it to begin with.) First of all, who the hell can light a campfire? Not us, obviously. And omigod, there were SO many bugs! Like zillions and zillions of flying insects swarming around our heads at all times. It was awful and gross and inescapable. And then there were the chipmunks. I do not know WHAT happened in the years between then and now, but these chipmunks had balls of steel. In the old days we would sit there for hours trying to coax one of those cute little rodents to take a peanut out of our hands. Not anymore. These new and improved chipmunks were coming right up onto our picnic table as we were eating. Right up onto it! And they would actually take the food right off our plates. I tried to shoo one away and I swear I saw it give me the finger. We spent the better part of that first day running around the campsite screaming in horror. Needless to say, we had booked that campsite for the whole weekend and within 24 hours we were packed up and heading back to civilization.

And that was it…until now. Now there is a chance that I am voluntarily dipping my toe back into the pool of camping hell.

This time, I am not just unprepared…I am WOEFULLY unprepared. We borrowed a tent and a few air mattresses, but other than that we are pretty much screwed.

In the interest of full disclosure, however, the camping trip this weekend sounds like it is going to be perfectly fab. There are over 50 families from our town going, and that includes almost every single one of my amazingly awesome neighbors. Plus, from what I hear we are right down the street from a liquor store, so at least there’s that. It does kind of seem like this weekend almost has no way of NOT being awesome. I’m being cautiously optimistic. But still… 7 Butters in a tent? I don’t know how any good can come of that. I’ll keep you posted…


If You Need Me, I’ll Be In My Shell

turtle selfie

Its amazing the amount of noise and chaos I can tune out when it comes to my kids. For example, I should legit have PTSD from the car ride to the beach on Mother’s Day. But I don’t. The yelling, complaining, and Are we there yet? all just float past me, barely even making it into my ears and to my brain. I’m so good at the tune out that during the whole ENTIRE trip there was only ONE time that I felt the urge to full-body launch myself from the passenger seat directly into the backseat intent on performing a leaping scissor kick while screaming, “That’s right, you BETTER hide!” But luckily I managed to get myself back to a state of calm until the urge passed (Serenity now. Serenity now.) During most car trips I can even let the occasional physical brawl just ride itself out. The way I see it, if you try to give “dead leg” to the person sitting next to you because they are “breathing too loud on purpose”, you’re probably going to get kicked in the head. And that is just a lesson you have to learn on your own. That is NOT something I can teach you.

I can tune out lots of other things, too. Take for instance the cabinets in my kitchen. The other day my husband looked closely at them and he was like, “Gross. The cabinets need to be cleaned.” And I was like, “Huh? What cabinets?” while leaning against the very cabinets of which he spoke. Gunk building up on the cabinets is something that I can tune out (ignore?) pretty easily. Very easily. Okay, maybe way too easily. But really, I have laundry that is begging to be folded, bums that need to be wiped at various times throughout the day, and dinner that is somehow supposed to miraculously cook itself. Am I really supposed to pay attention to the dirt on the cabinets? Plus, I find that if I walk through the kitchen really quickly and kind of blur my eyes a little I hardly notice the dirty cabinets at all. That works for other parts of the house as well, by the way. It’s kind of like a life hack.

I’m just now trying my hand at tuning out my middle schooler’s newly acquired “I know more than you. You may have walked the earth for 44 years, but I am nearly 12 and therefore I know everything” attitude. That one is giving me a run for my money. But I’m no quitter. I’ll tune that noise out sooner or later.

The way I see it, my ability to tune out the unsavory parts of my life makes me sort of like a reverse Ninja Turtle. Instead of jumping into action to fight the bad guy and restore calm and order to the masses, I see the chaos and annoyance increasing and I ever so slowly retreat into my shell. First one foot, then the other… slowly I start scrunching my head backwards until I am safe inside my nice quiet shell, where all the cabinets are self-cleaning, and all the children are pleasant and well-behaved. My shell is the best. I love it in here. It’s so fab that one of these days I may never come out.


The Legend of the Uninterrupted Adult Conversation

adult conversations 4

I don’t think an Uninterrupted Adult Conversation really exists. Sure I’ve heard of it. It’s supposed to be fantastic… I’d actually really like to partake in it. But, sadly, I think it really is just an old urban legend. It’s like Bigfoot or snuffaluffagus… no credible source has ever had a legitimate run-in with it. Sure there are grainy photographs, and large yellow birds trying to prove that it’s not just all hype, that there is, in fact, a gigantic sasquatch that roams the woods. But there are no gigantic foot bones lying around, no fossils, no sasquatch scat to be found anywhere in the woods. That’s how an Uninterrupted Adult Conversation feels to me. There is no evidence that it is real. If there were, you’d have parents all over the world finishing sentences, laughing joyously, and knowing each others’ business. Instead what you have is a conversation like this (which isn’t at ALL annoying):

“So, I was at the…hold on just a minute buddy, I’m talking to Dad. So, I was at the store…yup, just one sec pal. So, I was at the store today and… stop interrupting me. I’m talking to Dad. So, I was at the store today and I saw…I’m talking to Dad! What do you need? What?! No, we’re not going out for ice cream. Okay, where was I, oh yes, so I was at the store today… WHAT?! I don’t care if your brother said that we are going for ice cream. We are NOT going for ice cream. So, at the store today I saw this really cool thing… stop asking me questions. You’re being rude. So, this thing I saw at the store was so cool, you would love it…are you guys kidding me right now?! Yes, maybe we can go for ice cream. I just need ten minutes to talk to Dad. Okay, so this thing was awesome you would love it…if you’re interrupting me again you better be bleeding. Okay, wait, what was I talking about?”

It drives my husband crazy. It drives me crazy. I try to have a talk with the interrupter about interrupting and how it’s rude, and how two people can’t talk at once, etc etc. But the whole time I’m talking, the interrupter is talking because yes, in fact, two people CAN talk at once. As long as one of them is a kid and thinks that just because she is talking someone is listening.

I don’t think my husband and I have had a full conversation at home in a dog’s age. I remember not long ago he had back surgery, and few weeks after the surgery someone asked me how he was feeling…and I was like, huh, I don’t know. I think he must be feeling okay because I see him walking around the house and we pass each other in the hall and stuff and he doesn’t seem to be in pain. So, yes, I’m going to go with he feels great, thanks for asking. (Mental note to ask husband how his back is feeling.)

The only time that we are not bombarded by little people trying to talk to us is usually at 11:00 at night. And then the conversation goes like this:
Husband: “Do you ever wish we traveled more before we had kids.”
Me: “No”
Husband: “Why didn’t we go places when we could?”
Husband: “Oh my God, did you just fall asleep in the middle of our conversation?”
Me: “What? No. I’m awake. What was the question?”

I think the minute that someone finds out they are pregnant they should sit down with their significant other and immediately just start talking about everything they can possibly think of. It will be your last chance for a long time to just talk. Make lists and take notes about all the different scenarios that could arise in the future and how you would handle them. Talk about how to handle bad report card grades, how you would spend the money if you won the lottery, should you give the kids an allowance once a week or only if they have done chores, if one of you should accidentally back into the other’s car and leave a huge dent how would you best handle that, etc. You know, that kind of stuff. That way when these things come up there will be no need to try and sit down together and process the situation and come up with a solution (that sounds great, huh??) you can just refer to chapter 2, paragraph 3 from your book of notes and see the solution right there. No. Need. To. Talk.

Now if you will excuse me, I’m going to go hiking in my back woods to try to see if I can find bigfoot. Hopefully I will find some evidence of him, and I can tell my husband all about it when he gets home later…oh, wait, never mind.