The other night, Les decided to go camping in the backyard with our boys after he got home from work.  It’s not the first time we’ve gone camping in a tent with them – but it’s only ever been in our backyard.  In fact, we’ve intended to take our kids camping in a national park for years…we bought camping stuff and everything.  It just never happened because of Les’ work schedule.

I have a birthday coming up.  I’ve rarely celebrated my birthday since getting married.  Mostly because Les is usually flying…in the Bahamas!  (That’s a story unto itself…but it happened three years in a row so I give him a hard time about it every once in awhile!  Just sayin’.  My older age is making me feel feisty!)  As Les is setting up the tent in the backyard, I asked him if we could figure out a way to go camping as my birthday celebration.  He immediately loved the idea!  Within fifteen minutes, we went from sleeping in a tent in the backyard to packing to go to a state park an hour away from our house.

Les is about to have a crazy schedule all summer since he’s training to fly a new airplane, so we don’t know when or if the opportunity would present itself to go camping again this summer.  The moment was now….and we were going to make it happen.

As I was pulling out of the driveway to run to the grocery store really quick, Les was pulling all of our camping gear out of the garage.

“Boys, go pack a couple days worth of clothes in a backpack and roll up your sleeping bag with your pillow.  We’re going camping!”

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Symeon was so stinkin’ cute!  He LOVED crawling around in the tent!!!  As much as Les and I enjoy camping, our bodies do not love sleeping on the ground so we had two special camping mats for sleeping.  Symeon thought it was hysterical to crawl up onto them and then back down again.

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There was a playground in another section of the campground.  We walked to it after we set up camp to let the boys burn off some excitement.  Oh. my. goodness.  Our boys were excited and we needed them to calm down a bit!

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After dinner, the boys walked over to the water faucet to wash dishes.  While the three older boys wanted to get this chore done as quickly as possibly, Gabriel wanted to drag it out as long as possible.  There came a point where I had to walk over and mediate.

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Can you tell I just helped wash the dishes?

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Ya gotta have smores, right?!

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The night was rougher than anticipated.  It was cold.  A little too cold.  We now have a new family camping rule: The low temp for the night needs to be at least in the 60’s before we go camping in a tent.  (It dropped into the 50’s that night.)

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The thing is though…Les and I would have done it all over again though.  These are healing moments for our family.  When Les and I take a break from the daily distractions and direct all of our attention solely on our kids.  It’s not something you can do on a daily basis.  Dishes and laundry quickly pile up.  Food has to be made.  Lessons need to be planned.  Phone calls need to be answered.  The list goes on…but out here we didn’t even have cell service to distract us.  There was nothing that was going to pull us away from just spending time with out kids.  All kids need that – when parents just give their undivided attention to them.  Listen to them.  Play with them.  Teach them.  It’s far to easy to be distracted by work, the internet, or any other number of things that we gravitate to on a daily basis.

The night before, Chris was helping me pull some supplies for dinner from the back of the van.  He’s my little sous chef these days.  I was reaching for a spatula from the bucket when he wrapped his arms around me in a genuine, not awkward at all, hug and sincerely told me, “I really love you mom!!!”

I was so taken aback by it, I actually told him, “You’ve never done that before!  What’s the occasion?”

“I just really love you and wanted to tell you.”

“Well, I like it!!!!  Keep em’ coming!”

10 years…and that right there was the very first time he has ever given me a hug of his own accord, for no reason at all, other than to show affection.  That, my friends, is a very long time to have wait for a hug and an ‘I love you’ from your child.

If I had to endure a cold night bundled inside of a tent to get it – I’d do again and again and again!

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We were all fully awake at 5:45am!  That pot of coffee never looked so good!

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I’m right there with you Gabriel.  Right there with you.

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Morning prayers

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Eggs!

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Time to wash dishes again!

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