The total solar eclipse has got to stand out as the preeminent highlight of last month. We took our brand-spanking-new trailer (the one that replaced the pop-up trailer I vowed to burn down in Vancouver) to a hay field in Madras, Oregon and bathed in totality with 700 other camping groups. Note, there were maybe ten porta-potties to support the mass of people.
We let you two watch the eclipse from the top of the car, and you took all the board games we’d packed up there with you. Then you got so wrapped up in arguing the arcane rules of some bizarre Connect-4/Jenga/Headbanz amalgam you’d invented, you very nearly missed the eclipse out of spite. It took me threatening, “In 50 years you’re going to tell people you saw the eclipse and you will be LYING” to get you to finally look up.
It was amazing. For those two minutes and 20 seconds I imagined eclipse-chasing would become a regular family activity for us. We’d be the Solar Adventures Family (Lunar?). My blog would go viral; there’d be a book… possibly a reality-show. One or the other of you would go on to become an astronaut; the other, maybe a poet. We’d probably have to sell our house to launch this project, but at least I could stop stressing about paint colors.
But then the porta-potties overflowed, and we withered in traffic for ten hours to get to our next campground, arriving at 1:00 in the morning. So, let’s just be satisfied with the one eclipse, yeah?
I hate picking paint colors.
The eclipse kicked off a two-week camping excursion. Here are some highlights from the trip:
- In Madras, while standing in line with the rest of Oregon to poop at Safeway, Kitten walked confidently up to the man in line in front of us and smacked him on the butt. Naturally, you were completely unfazed when you realized the man wasn’t your daddy; you just marched over to your actual daddy and smacked his butt.
- We rented a pontoon boat on Lost Creek Lake and had a blast. You guys invented a game wherein you did battle with pirates by shooting candy out of your butts (for pretend, to be clear). Later, after daddy jumped into the lake to pee (which Kitten took a lot of convincing to believe—“true story, Daddy?”), you two took turns peeing in the lake, and challenged each other to test whether the water felt warmer.
- I suspect peeing in large bodies of water will be your favorite memory of all our family trips.
- Later that night, Daddy whiled away his time pricing pontoon boats.
- Also on that lake, Daddy said he’d give Swedish Fish to whoever ducked him/herself in the water. You two expended great energy and cunning getting every inch of our bodies wet without actually immersing yourselves in the water. But Daddy was ruthless in his enforcement of the rule; you had to be thoroughly soaked– even your eyelashes.
- We had a nearly-perfect climbing tree at our camp site near Crater Lake. You both moved all your dearest possessions into the tree, and daddy wrapped it in twinkle lights so you could hang out there late into evening. It wasn’t until Day 2 of our stay that I realized you were both covered in sap. Kitten, you managed to get a hefty chunk of it in your hair, and none of the remedies Google suggested could get it out. We finally had to cut it out with scissors, but you declared the climbing tree was worth it.
- Daddy and I marked our ninth anniversary with a drink at the lodge overlooking Crater Lake, with you two climbing over us, trying to out-gross each other. We told you stories of our marriage vows including provisions for whooping our kids’ hides when they got too stinky, but I don’t think you bought it. I think I have managed to convince you we got married so that we could have a little boy whom we’d call Puppy, and a little girl whom we’d call Kitten, and that’s not too far from the truth.
- During our stay near Redwood National Park, we tried to whip up your enthusiasm for visiting another grove of redwood trees by showing you the scene from Return of the Jedi that was filmed there. Sometimes, I surprise even myself with my parenting naiveté. Puppy kept asking if this was the spot where they filmed it; I think you were expecting a gift shop.
- On the drive between Crater Lake and the Redwoods, Puppy got lessons in terrorism and taxes. Maybe we should pack more video games on these trips.
- On the drive between the Redwoods and the Oregon Coast, we picked up some fudge in a charming little beachside town. It turned out to be The Fudge of Dorian Grey, with Kitten in the role of Dorian. The sweeter the fudge, the more paranoid, egotistical, and choleric the Kitten. The last hour of that drive was hell on everyone. I’m still hesitant to even speak the word fudge.
- I spent a fair bit of our trip standing outside bathroom stalls, waiting for a kid to poop. Neither of you would poop within 20 feet of a spider, and Kitten– you would chatter away while you pooped, amusing all the ladies in the bathroom. During one session, you composed a series of metaphors to describe the color of your pee, at one point comparing it to the sun (though you allowed that the sun is brighter).
- Trying to distract Kitten from her brother’s pestering: “Hey Kitten, what color is your poop?” “American flag!”
Working backwards here, we also spent a weekend at the Canal with the Nelsini brood this month. We’ve taken longer vacations with them before, but this trip was the first time I saw you, Puppy, engage with the baby Remy very much. I loved watching you watch him—you showed such interest in what caught his attention, in trying to make him giggle, and you were so gentle! It warms a mama’s heart to see her babies love on babies.
Later, while Jeff changed Remy’s diaper, Kitten helpfully observed that Remy’s penis is bigger than her big brother’s. (Don’t worry, Puppy; all infant boys’ penises are disproportionately big.)
Quintessential Kitten moment: We sat the five kids down in front of Frozen late one evening. One-by-one each of the kids dropped off to sleep, except Kitten—you insisted you weren’t tired. I kept checking on you, offering to pause the movie and let you resume it in the morning, but you wouldn’t even let me finish the thought; “I’m not tired!” even though you were totally drooping. So I surreptitiously left a pillow on the sofa beside you and walked away, then watched you from the porch. Watching you fight sleep never gets old. You are fierce, Kitten, but sleep eventually wins.
Other random tidbits from the month:
- Kitten came home from school one day, bubbling with excitement about Emma’s birthday party, which featured candy tomatoes! (Cherry tomatoes, yeah?) I’ve started calling them candy tomatoes, but you still won’t eat them.
- Puppy came home from a field trip to Golden Gardens with a backpack full of “treasure,” which you excitedly asked to show us during dinner. You pulled out one piece of garbage after another, placing them on the dinner table, while I held my breath and silently prayed you wouldn’t pull out a hypodermic needle.
- I got sick earlier in the month. Just a head cold, but it really knocked me out. I went straight to bed after work one afternoon, and Daddy kindly let me sleep straight through the evening. You weren’t too happy about that arrangement, Kitten, and you sneaked into our bedroom to wake me. Daddy slipped in after you to scoop you away, and you cried out, “You’re taking me away from mama’s love!”
- Later, resting on Daddy’s pillow, you called out to him, “I’m giving you some lovin’, Daddy!”
Next month: Back to school, soccer, state fair, and “shoulder” camping!