Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Camping

We did it. We completed the long-awaited first trip with our new camper.


  


The camper is not new, just new to us. We purchased it recently from some friends, and we have been anxiously awaiting our first trip in it.


  


So when Ethan was asked to preach as pulpit supply to a church in southern Maryland, we readily accepted. He has preached there several times before, and they are a very very warm and welcoming congregation. It is a beautiful area, and we have commented several times that it would be fun to camp there. As it is only an hour and a half away, we could easily abort ship camper if something horrific happened.


  


And then, in an incredibly generous gesture, a family from that congregation heard we wanted to camp and offered to get us into Solomons Navy Recreation Center (you have to be in the Navy -- or retired -- or in the Department of Defense to get in). We looked it up online and talked excitedly about all the amenities and splashing in the Patuxent River.


   


In true Allison fashion, we opted for making every decision as difficult as it could be. The morning we were to depart, Lily (3) came crying into our room. "I'm going to throw up!"


  


Ethan and I gave each other grimaced smiles. "Oh, honey, maybe you just have to go potty." "You got up too early." "Go lay down until you feel better." (This last was obviously Ethan. I would have said, "Go LIE down.")


  


Despite our efforts at ignoring her complaints and pretending she hadn't said anything, she did throw up. Three times. "Maybe she's just too tired." "Maybe she overdid it yesterday." "Maybe she'll be better once we get outside."


  


Then Abraham threw up.


  


That was it. I would stay home with the four youngest, and Benjamin and Ethan would go camping. I was, well, sad. I talked in a too-cheery voice to Benjamin, who was absolutely thrilled with the new arrangement and insisted on hugging me goodbye before the van was loaded, never mind the camper not being hooked up. The entire week of planning outfits and kitchen utensils and activities to do with the kids and finding swimsuits seemed wasted. I am terrible at hiding my emotions, so I don't even try anymore. "I don't want to talk about it!" I sniffled to Ethan.


   


Lily came crying up to me through gray lips, "Benjamin says he and Papa are going camping, and I have to stay here with you! I'm not sick! I feel better already!"


  


That was sad. Too sad. Against our better judgment, we decided to go anyway. What was the worst that could happen? If they were sick, I could just stay in the pop-up with them. (This shows an incredible naivete and refusal to deal with reality. The worst that could happen would have been an absolute nightmare in a pop-up.)


 


But God was merciful, even against our better judgment. We left a few hours later than planned and stopped at a Burger King for medicinal refreshments. (The way Ethan worded it was, "Do you feel like cleaning up Dr. Pepper throw-up or chocolate milk throw-up?" This had an obvious answer. If you're sick, you need the Dr., right?) The children slept on the way and woke up when we stopped to call our "sponsors" (the people who got us into the Rec. Center) for directions. We arrived at the campground and sat on a big blanket while Ethan unfolded and popped up the pop-up.


  


And the time there was wonderful. The kids ran and played and giggled and "swam" (if your belly-button is submersed, you're swimming) and ooohed and aaahed at the string of Pier 1 lights ($3 at the thrift store) we hung outside the camper and thanked us multiple times for "having this idea." Edee (almost 5 mos.) began a pacifier addiction, which was very convenient; and Miriam (2) had her first joke (arms folded, "Umm....Goodwill cheap. Hooray!" and clapping hands. OK, so it doesn't translate well, but I promise it's hysterical in person. Really. It has nothing to do with being her mother...). Abraham (2) sang various songs at the top of his lungs, all of which had the word "Hallelujah" (or "How-way-woo-wuh") in them. Benjamin (5) was the game organizer and kept his siblings occupied while making sure Edee still had her pacifier. Lily kept busy washing dishes and tables and pop-up step and anything else she could find.


  


It was absolutely beautiful. The water and the rocks and the trees and the sunset and the stars and everything just made for an incredible scene.


  


We woke early Sunday morning, gathered all the children, made sure all bows were in place and shoes were tied, and made it to church in enough time for Ethan to prepare to preach.


  


Unfortunately, we did not make it in enough time to go back to the campsite and trade Ethan's Teva's for preaching shoes. Fortunately, he was wearing black socks so it made it a little less obvious that he hadn't put his church shoes on after coming back from the camp showers in his Teva's. But as one churchmember told me, "I just thought he was getting a little earthy."


  


Ah, well. Somehow, trying to stifle my giggles at the vision of him behind the pulpit with his feet well hidden seemed to lighten the load of keeping five squirming children quiet during the service.


  


And then it was over. We stayed another night, packed up (oh, how quickly that can be typed and how S-L-O-W-L-Y it actually happens!), and headed for home. Bedtimes were early, and laundry was late.


  


And the sight of dirty fingernailed hands pudgily folded under sleeping sunkissed cheeks was delightful.


 


 

4 comments:

  1. It all sounds so sweet and full of memories for years to come. Thanks for the smile. kerri

    http://gladoil.blogspot.com/

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  2. you are very brave (read: maybe a little crazy) to leave on a trip like that with sick kids. I admit I read the whole way to the end expecting you all to be sick at once, I am so relieved it worked out well for you.

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  3. BattlementsofRubiesJune 26, 2007 at 2:57 PM

    Rachel, I have just spent a little too long enjoying your blog ( I really should be in bed, but I'm really glad I stopped by here)

    I found your blog after you left a comment for me on Barbara Curtis's site. I just wanted to thank you. What you had to say has really encouraged me tonight. What I badly need is a vision of the 'sweetness' of twins, all I have been seeing is the drudgery and hamstrungness ( is that a word?) and clutter etc.

    Your comments, and what I have seen here on your blog, has given me a little glimpse of the sweetness. I intend to hang on to that, and mull on those thoughts rather than the dreary ones that I have been entertaining.

    Honestly, I do believe I am going to bed a happier woman tonight. Your words were spot on, and just what I needed. Thank you for taking the time.

    Clare

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  4. CarpeBanana, I kept waiting for everyone to get sick, too! I just had to keep a record of when we went against everything wise and amazingly enough we had a wonderful time. Because usually when I go against everything wise, I am quickly reminded of why the way I went was not the wise one.


    Clare with the kind words, YOU. WILL. LOVE. TWINS. You will! You will hate the mess and the clutter and the loss of memory and the time it takes to get everyone in the car, so go ahead and let go of those things now.


    But the twins....? You will absolutely love them. I have never met a mother of twins, EVER, who said she wishes she didn't have twins.


    Welcome to the club! It's a happy one!

    Rachel

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