Whew! What a week!! It feels like Brent just left an hour ago, and it has been an entire week already.
Tuesday I took the boys camping at Otter Lake, 1/2 hour outside of Princeton. Princeton is a teeny town where, incidentally, my parents met; as far as I remember it the story is that my dad, a teacher, was 'jumped' by some high school students and had to go to the hospital to get checked out and met my mom, Nurse Nancy. Who wouldn't be in hot pursuit of the sexy Nurse Nancy? They dated in Princeton, which was so small it had no restaurant fancy enough to wear anything other than jeans and some plaid hippie shirt to, and my dad had no phone so he used to leave my mom messages under her windshield wiper. And the rest is history.
Anyways, Otter Lake is our annual (this is our 2nd annual) summer camping destination and Ayden has been looking forward to this trip since last year when we got home. So, having asked around to find a replacement adult for Brent and failing to find one, I decided to take the boys myself. People were shocked. People at the campground admired me. I thought ???????????!! My mother took THREE kids between the ages of 4 and 10 all the way across Canada in a little Toyota Tercel in 1988, a six week trip: I can do two nights' camping in a provicial campground. :) And we did fine. It was a lot of work for me, but I was prepared for that.
Our drive up in my NEW CAR, a '95 Toyota Corolla which I am in love with (it only takes $30 to fill it up~ $35 if really on empty, and a tank lasts forever) was fun! I was RUNNING and SWEATING with my efforts to get us out the door Tuesday morning, and I had to turn around at Aldergrove to go back for our towels and ALL of Matthew's clothes, which I had forgotten in the upstairs hallway. But this was all in the name of fun, and I didn't have a time agenda per se, except that I wanted to get to Otter Lake before dark, so it was fine. In fact, I felt blessed that I had been 'reminded' seemingly out of the blue that I had left these articles at home and that we were still close enough to turn around and retrieve them. The boys were good as angels on the drive up; it is amazing how long two boys can entertain themselves with two small action figures, when they are in a good mood! It's doubly amazing how they can't when they are in a bad mood :) but such was not the case on Tuesday.
Past Princeton and halfway to Otter Lake is a tiny town called Coalmont with a 19th century hotel and a half a dozen houses which always intruiges me...
A few minutes past that is Tulameen, a cottage community with a general store and a few houses. It seems the main industry in Tulameen is firewood, since there are 'firewood for sale--cheep!' signs everywhere...
Ayden started shouting for joy, and Matthew echoing, as soon as Otter Lake was visible. We spent the afternoon on the beach, Ayden 'fishing' and Matthew trying desparately to drown himself, and then headed back to set up camp. Dinner was healthy and easy by design, with no cooking involved. Which was good. I'm a terrible cook. Which I lived up to the next morning when I attempted pancakes on our gas campstove. Brent always makes pancakes when we camp; I just wish I knew HOW! My first attempt was charred black (as we all know, campstoves have two temperatures~ too hot, and off). My second attempt was baisically deep fried. The boys wouldn't touch them. This turned out to be good, as I was sick as a dog for a few hours afterwards. Ah, cooking. Women are supposed to be able to do this? While I was trying to make pancakes I heard Ayden trying to convince Matthew to share a toy with him, and he reverted to "Matthew, I'm getting angry. One...two..." I about died with laughter, as this is Ayden's attempt at the time out countdown that I do to get HIM to behave!
Our second day was divided between the beach, the hammock, the nature trails, and our campfire, which was pleasant and relaxing despite me being solely in charge of two rascally, very dirty boys for 13 hours. Matthew did get a few time outs that evening as it is very difficult to remember NOT to touch the campstove or run near the campfire when one is excited. That night I read Matthew two stories and he was asleep by the middle of the second one, and I read 5 or 6 chapters of Charlotte's Web for Ayden, until our flashlights (all four of them) died and we had to go to sleep. Both nights I went to bed when the boys did and I think this was the key to my survival as both mornings the boys woke up at 6:30. The morning that we left Ayden woke me up at 5:50 with "TODAY IS OUR WUCKY DAY!!!! WE ARE GOING TAMPING TODAY!!! WAKE UP MOMMY!" so an 8:30 bedtime for mommy was warrented. This could be the key to my survival the whole time Brent is gone, although I can see this wearing thin as in this model I have no time alone during the day and I relish my time alone, what little I can spare.
So, my advice to any single parent who wants to take their children camping is, take extra batteries for all your flashlights, and go to bed at the same time as your children. And don't deep fry your pancakes. Oh, and if you have kids with 'strange toilet aversion syndrome' or worse, 'outhouse refusal syndrome,' bring a plastic potty with a removable seat, and some flushable baby wipes. This saved my life.
The following morning was departure day so I had to feed us, wash the dishes, and pack the entire campsite back into our Toyota Corolla sedan before 11 a.m. I did this with 20 minutes to spare. :) Power mommy! As we pulled away both boys were yelling, "BYE CAMPSITE, BYE BEACH, BYE LAKE, BYE ODDER WAKE, BYE ICE CREAM STORE, BYE CAMPFIRE, BYE FISH, BYE KAILIE (a neighbour's dog who loved to play with the kids), BYE TREES, BYE MOSQUITOS...."
To ease the pain of leaving Otter Lake I promised the boys a stop at Manning Park's sub-alpine meadows, which my friend Rob took me to MANY (okay, several) years ago and which I've always wanted to revisit to show my kids. I stopped in Princeton for lunch at A&W (not worth it, by the way; I think I'll stick to my trail mix and ham sandwiches from now on...greasy and I found a hair in my veggie burger) and Ayden started to wail that we were stopping and we weren't at the meadows yet! He's so funny. I had to explain that it was lunchtime now but the meadows were still an hour away, but the big, shiny tears just kept gathering on his lower eyelids until we were on the road again. Matthew was sleeping. Unfortunately my camera DIED at Manning Park so I got NO digital pictures of this Canadian God masterpiece~luckily I bought both boys disposable cameras for the trip and Matthew had 15 or 16 pictures left on his so I snapped some pix on those but it will be awhile before I can print, scan, and post them. Also, I am at work so will have to wait until I'm home and have computer time (not often syncronized these days) before I can post any pix of our Otter Lake camping trip. Rest assured, pictures are forthcoming.
The rest of our trip was uneventful until we hit Chilliwack, where there was dead standstill traffic which did not let up until we reached our exit in Langley. I don't recommend bumper to bumper traffic in a standard on a hot day with two crabby, stinky kids in the back. At one point though, we pulled over to pee and a train flew by~the conductor waved at the boys and it MADE their day, especially for Matthew, who stood there with his mouth open and his eyes flicking back and forth from car to car for the entire length of the train. He then talked about it for an hour afterwards!
I wanted to watch 'my show,' So You Think You Can Dance and it was on at 8, so I had dinner/bath/bedtime carefully planned for timing so I could be in front of the TV (and have the car unpacked) by 8. I started defrosting fish and unloading the car, and I had the boys busy with an activity so they would stay out of my way, when I encountered a COOKING PROBLEM. I couldn't light the barbeque. Seriously, am I THIS BAD? Apparantly so, as 5 minutes of work produced only one fireball and no lit barbeque. Instead of TURNING ON THE OVEN as any sane, rational woman would do, I thought "*f* this!" and took the boys to a restaurant instead. Encountering cooking problems generally sends me to restaurants. Of course, before we could go we had to shower off 3 days worth of dirt and sweat and sunscreen, so by the time we were at a table in Red Robin and ready to order, we were all hungry enough to eat the table! The waitress messed up my order and brought me a chicken quesedilla instead of a vegetarian. I hate chicken but I was so hungry I ate it anyways. The salad she brought me was gross, too, so I fed the boys the croutons and left the rest of it~AND paid for the entire meal instead of complaining, because I didn't have the energy.
And I missed So You Think You Can Dance after all. My friend asked her roomate to tape it for me and last night I sat down to watch it and discovered that the friend's roomate had taped an hour of those rainbow bars and that aweful noise that plays when a station is off air. So much for that! That's okay, it's only TV and I rarely get to watch the show anyways. I just like to see people dance. In fact, I subjected Rob to this show while he was here visiting in July and even he admitted the dancing was cool. Or something like that, since I was watching TV and not really listening to him.
All told, the crazy stories were more funny than bad, and we had a rousingly successful camping trip.
Matthew kept asking me if daddy was going to be home soon; "Daddy home? Daddy home? Mommy, daddy home?" and last night when the boys pulled away from the curb in grandma's truck to spend two nights with her while I work, Ayden was wailing and holding out his arms for me...he hasn't cried when I leave for work since before we adopted Matthew, and never like that...I think daddy's absence is starting to sink in now that we are home again, and it is enough to rip my heart away from my chest to have to go to work when they need me. Tough goodbyes.