Are you READY?!!
1. Upon arrival at campsite watch as son adopts a series of small, fragile woolly caterpillars and names them each Arthur. Help him make homes for them in a small cup. Explain that caterpillars need some rest and shade when it is 89 degrees outside.
2. Gather several of the woolly mini-monsters for your enthusiastic three-year-old. Feign delight as she names them (Blackie and Brownie) and declares to the world vociferously that caterpillars LOVE her. Apparently these are THE BEST CATERPILLARS EVER!!!
3. Watch as children hug, cuddle and squeeze the caterpillars unmercifully, lamenting when they become limp and unresponsive. Help children adopt new (obviously ubiquitous) caterpillars. Compliment children as they wear listless caterpillars like fur stoles.
4. Visit neighboring camp site. Allow your children to befriend heavily (southern) accented children who ply them (while you are busy setting up the tent and cooking dinner) with sodas, juices, chips, and Easter candy.
5. Declare that there is just enough time to go to the beach before making dinner. Change all children into swim wear. Change self into swimwear inside dinky tent which as already reached Finnish Sauna levels of heat and humidity. Wonder where shade is.
6. Drive to beach. Unload children and beach gear. Circle asphalt parking lot on foot, dragging three complaining children, searching for way into beach. Finally find notice sign declaring that beach will not open until Memorial Day. Think: "Ummm. Hey, I understand that rule in Wisconsin where it MIGHT be 67 degrees on Memorial Day, IF you're lucky. But...uuhhh...It's like, 90 degrees in Georgia RIGHT NOW!!!" The campground is open. Where's the freakin' WATER!!!!" Concede that there is no way to "sneak into" the beach. (Totally fenced off.)
7. Calmly load crying and complaining children back into car, promising to douse them with water from the faucet back at the campsite. Distract them with talk of dinner. Promise them marshmallows if they eat dinner.
8. Begin making dinner. Realize propane bottles for campstove are all empty. Send Hubby to nearest gas station (10 miles away) for more propane. Allow children to drink juice at neighbor's campsite while waiting.
9. Upon Hubby's return, discover that problem is with propane connector being loose rather than propane bottles being empty. Finally manage to connect propane and light camp stove. Make dinner (the famous "camping casserole"). Have dinner universally rejected by all children and Hubby. Force kids to ingest a portion of dinner and hence a smattering of protein to offset the sugar. Make a large margarita for Hubby. Make a large margarita for self.
10. Drink margaritas and watch children prepare marshmallows (extra rare) until children appear somewhat sleepy and force them into bed at 8:30. Watch fire, drink more margaritas, and play "lightsabers" with the flashlights in the campfire smoke with Hubby.
11. Wake up every 30 minutes all night long. Curse the existence of bathroom 50 feet from tent and wish for a shotgun to shoot out glaring street light in front of busy bathroom.
12. Morning dawns. Try to keep children asleep as long as possible by remaining perfectly still on mostly deflated air mattress as your ass digs deeper and deeper into the ground. Give up at 6:30.
13. Try to keep children reasonably quiet and mostly inside tent as long as possible since other people's tent are a mere 20 feet away. Give up at 7:15 am. Apologize sweetly as your neighbors emerge from their tents, bleary eyed.
14. Try to make breakfast quickly to stave off toddler from eating dirt, twigs, and rocks. Try to console other children over "escape" of caterpillar pets. Tell them that "Blackie" and "Brownie" and "Arthur I, II, and III" went home to see their mamas.
15. Since the beach is clearly out of the question, plan a family hiking trip to enliven the day. Load toddler in sling onto hubby. Fill pockets with sippy cups. Drag children along nature trail, pointing out natural wonders, like the small stream, the wild flowers, and the litter.
16. Take priceless photos of Natural Wonders (kids) in front of "Natural Wonder" (waterfall over dam).
17. Beg Park Rangers for band aids after Quin falls and splits her knee open. Clean up blood.
18. Drag children back to campsite. Uphill the whole way. Quin will no longer walk and must be carried. By Mama.
19. Try to feed children PB and J sandwiches. Children are too hot and too tired to eat. It is too early to drink margaritas.
20. Relent to their pain (and your agony) and start up minivan, put in Disney movie, and crank up the AC.
21. As children mercifully drift off to sleep, admit defeat, pack up tent and all the camping gear, and drive home.
22. Upon arrival at home turf, blast the AC, take lengthy shower, eat hidden stash of Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs and kiss own mattress (with tongue).
23. Take three and a half days to recover sufficiently to download photos and write post.