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C'est la Vie: Not Planning Pays Off (aka Backyard Camping)

It's entirely possible that in the next breath I will be changing my mind. Not planning pays off? Really?? I'm usually kicking myself and whining about how if I just were a better planner things would go so much better. But here I am, beautiful (almost) summer night, sitting by the fire thinking, "I am shocked at how my lack of planning made this such a great day!"

It all started on Friday night when my husband realized he had Monday off. "We should go camping on Sunday," he told me. He was enthusiastic and I could feel myself getting excited too. The weather is supposed to be fantastic, I thought to myself. After getting a slow start to our camping careers, we had a great experience last summer, so why not get started early? One problem. We live in Colorado. Every other soul with kids and a tent is thinking exactly the same thing. Even worse, they thought of it two months ago and made a reservation.

All of this rolled around in my head for about 36 hours. By Sunday morning, I had officially given up all hope of camping. But then it occurred to me, why should I let my poor planning ruin a perfectly perfect time to camp? And that is when I decided that we would camp in the backyard. We could still do all of the same fun things that you do when you camp with all of the convenience of being about 10 yards from my backdoor (and indoor plumbing... not that my son will use it, but the rest of us will).

Now don't misunderstand me, I realize I am not the first person to think of this. But moms, isn't it great when you can pull of something really fun and memorable instead of disappointing your kids? (Yes. Yes, it is.)

Step one. Pull the camping gear out of the garage and make camp. Step two. Make a sugar-filled, artificially colored beverage (oh yeah, they are happy now). Step three. Let kids pack everything (okay, maybe not everything) they would if they were going on a real camping trip. Step four. Not the most fun of the steps, but necessary.... go to the grocery store and procure marshmallows, chocolate, graham crackers, hot dogs, and any other foods synonymous with camping in your family. Step five. Start the campfire. This requires resisting the urge to just flip on the gas grill, but it is absolutely necessary to round out the camp motif. Step six. Make your meal and savor that fire smell. Step seven. Family game time! Crazy Eights, chess or checkers, horseshoes... whatever your family loves to play while camping. Step eight. Go for a nature walk or sing campfire songs or do some star-gazing. Hopefully, by the time you've made it to step nine, everyone is ready to climb in the tent and call it a night!

Here are some pictures from our fun-filled and spontaneous backyard camp-out! If you have other suggestions, please leave a comment.

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