Of Stars and Camping Stripes

Going camping this weekend? Here’s a fun re-post from the archives of last June… Happy 4th of July!

I have a confession: I’ve never been wild about camping in a tent.

Something about it just makes me feel like a Boy Scout. My older brother has always been waaaaay into camping, so perhaps that’s why I developed an aversion to it early in life. But nonetheless, I do have some fond memories of camping more times than I can count in the spacious backyard of my childhood home.

One time I camped out with my dear friend Aimee during a sleepover when we were about 12. That experience involved rain and some sort of catastrophic tent collapse around 4 a.m. Sadly, I was so traumatized or lacking in sleep that I blocked out the details. All I remember is laughing about it later until our sides nearly split open.

Like it or not, camping out is one of those outdoorsy things that everyone must do now and then. And recently I realized — in a small fit of mommy guilt — that neither of our daughters had ever spent the night in a tent!

Well, actually, there was that one time… When Linnea was 3, Michael tried a father-daughter backyard camp-out with her. She bounced and fidgeted in excitement for several hours, waaaaay past her usual bedtime. And then finally around 10:30 p.m., snug in her sleeping bag, Linnea was just drifting off to sleep when ka-boom! The fireworks began. It was the 4th of July. Seriously, whose grand idea was that?

Since we were here at home this Memorial Day weekend, I coaxed Michael into buying a six-man tent and pitching it for the girls to play in. They had a high old time indeed, pretending it was their house, playing with their rag dolls, and tracking in grass and other pieces of nature to litter the tent floor. You never saw two kids more eager for bedtime.

We have really long summer days here in the Frozen Tundra, so it’s still broad daylight at 9 p.m. Yet both jumped into their jammies around 7 p.m., hours before the sunset.

To cap off the evening, s’mores had been promised. Unfortunately, it was super windy that evening. Too windy for a fire in the backyard fire pit. At least, that was the conclusion of the former Boy Scout in our family. Since I had all the ingredients and I didn’t want unhappy campers, I decided to do the unthinkable.

I made s’mores in the microwave.

Strike that. I tried to make s’mores in the microwave.

If you haven’t tried this at home, please don’t. The graham cracker box is misleading. You really can’t make s’mores in the microwave. Sure the marshmallow puffs into its gooey, sticky loveliness, but the Hershey bar…

It wasn’t pretty. Laurel’s pajamas took the brunt of the s’more chocolate disaster. And our patio furniture also fell victim to the devastation of dripping chocolate loss.

By 7:30, my three happy campers were ready to call it a night. I kissed them all and headed inside, looking forward to a nice, peaceful evening alone in a quiet house, snuggled up with my laptop. Aaaah. Peace at last.

Some things are too good to be true.

I jumped when the phone rang. Laurel’s sweet little voice was on the other end, on her daddy’s cell phone, begging, “Mommy, will you please, please come outside with us and watch for the stars come out? We miss you.”

Who on earth could deny such a plea from their 4-year-old?

I did the right thing. I shut the laptop, changed clothes, and headed out to watch the stars.

Two hours and lots of giggles later, we were all still anxiously waiting for the first star to come out. Napless Laurel didn’t dare stop moving her mouth or else she’d fall soundly asleep. She talked, talked, talked. Full of endless questions. After a while, that just made Linnea giggle, giggle, giggle. Pretty soon, we were all giggling uncontrollably as Laurel tried so hard to stay awake for the first star.

Eventually the first star did come out. And then another. And another. By the fourth star, Laurel was sawing logs. It was well after 10 p.m. And that’s about when Michael informed me I couldn’t leave because I’d let in too many mosquitos. So I was trapped. In the tent. For the whole night.

At 4 a.m. I awoke, freezing and feeling rocks that I am certain arose underneath the sod just while I was laying there. Ugh! I sneaked back inside my quiet house and into my warm, soft bed. I left my three happy campers sleeping soundly.

Aaaah. Peace at last. For a few hours anyway.

UPDATE A YEAR LATER: Now we know: To make s’mores in the microwave, place marshmallow on graham cracker and microwave until the marshmallow puffs up. Remove promptly. Then, and only then, pile on the Hershey bar and second graham cracker. The hot marshmallow sort of melts the chocolate, but it doesn’t get drippy.

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