Tag Archives: Togetherness

How to Bail Out a Tent

Though Hubby and I now own a pop-up camper, we remained tent campers for two decades. As still-married experts, we offer advice to those planning to bail out tents.

A truly memorable experience depends on preparation.

  • Get away from it all, a hundred miles from the nearest laundromat. Confirm beforehand that hand dryers in the campground’s restrooms haven’t worked since 1979.
  • Pack anything that holds more than one teaspoon under your spare tire. Then forget where you packed your bailing aids.
  • Do not pack clothing and towels in waterproof garbage bags. Plan to stack them in your tent so during a deluge, every fiber will absorb its proper quota of water. Your clothes may sprout toadstools. Your towels will weigh more than chunks of firewood. But you won’t drown. You want to survive to do this again, don’t you?

Tips, once you’ve arrived at your site:

  • Place air mattresses under sleeping bags. These will promote comfort and dryness — unless the youth group that borrowed them wore cleats.
  • Store all food in your tent so 37 hungry raccoons will assist in your bailing experience.
  • Given that all bailing vessels are buried under your spare tire, a husband’s tennis shoes work well, especially if you’re mad because he talked you into tent camping.
  • If a nagging wife’s sleeping bag has remained dry while yours is drenched, use hers to sop up the flood.
  • A more relaxed approach: If spouses awaken to find air mattresses afloat, she can remind him he always wanted to go white water rafting. He can remind her she always wanted a pool. Add sunglasses and drinks with little paper umbrellas, then enjoy a facsimile of the vacation you really wanted.

The above assumes no children accompanied you. If they have, thunder will send them diving, slimy and screaming, into your sleeping bag. Remember, you and your spouse must set a positive example for future years, should they marry people with tents.

  • Instigate a family sing-along while you bail. “The Ants Go Marching” lends a steady rhythm to keep everyone working in the fun tradition of galley slaves. Avoid “There Shall Be Showers of Blessing.” Despite the song’s superior spiritual content, neighbors — also bailing — may not appreciate its profundity.
  • Start a water fight. You can’t get much wetter, right? (So what, if it’s 4:30 a.m.)
  • If water rises past kids’ knees, give them impromptu swimming lessons.
  • If water rises to your youngest child’s neck, enjoy sleeping in the car. Family togetherness — that’s why you planned this, right? Because you’ve always dreamed of sleeping, entwined with two kids, under a steering wheel …

And achieving that special marital chemistry that comes only with bailing out a tent.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What tent camping tips can you offer?

Stay Outa My Space!

Oreos were my go-to comfort food when my personal space requirements felt squashed.

Do you, like most Americans, value personal space?

Because my large family was stuffed into small houses, I developed an early yen for breathing room. If a genie had offered me wishes, I would have wished three younger siblings elsewhere.

But when I rubbed living room lamps, the genie never showed. So, I competed for the bathroom, the best car window, phone privacy, and a quiet place to read.

Recently, our pastor reminded me of those futile cravings. Using a room and duct tape, he illustrated how we compartmentalize our lives, attempting to bar God from areas we want to control.

My husband’s righteous elbow jabbed me.

He knew that as a child, I’d done exactly that — though I used The String, not duct tape. Another difference: I wanted to live close to God. I didn’t want to share a bedroom with my sister.

A pack rat, she never made our double bed. Her kitten never messed on her pillow. Only mine.

With that almighty String, I divided our bed and our room. “You and Kitty stay on your side,” I decreed, “and I’ll stay on mine. If we touch each other’s side, we pay fifty cents.”

She stared. “But you have the door.”

“And you’re standing in it. Fifty cents, please.”

Our parents spoiled my privacy plan. They showed zero respect for budding capitalism. How could they destroy such a profitable enterprise?

Little did I know I someday would share dormitory rooms with aliens. A fellow introvert, also smothered by a 30,000-student campus, wallpapered the inside of an appliance box. Whenever excessive togetherness made her crazy, she retreated into The Box.

Our family at Christmas 1985.

A similar box wouldn’t have worked for me as a young parent. First, I always flunk do-it-yourself projects. Second, three small children — two probably fragrant with needed diaper changes — would have crawled inside with me.

Hubby and I had stuffed our family into a tiny house. When I began consuming whole packages of Oreos, he realized something my parents didn’t get: I truly needed space.

Terribly North American. In some countries, whole families could have resided in our little home’s closet space.

Our move to a larger home provided breathing space for our family — especially me.

But we moved to a larger house. My Oreo-snarfing behavior — rather than my children — disappeared. Of course, a parent never possesses sufficient personal space. Amid slumber parties, snow days, and laser tag battles, I didn’t realize my personal space would expand beyond belief.

The pandemic provided more distance for us North Americans than we’d ever dreamed of. The pastor preached his duct tape message to a socially distanced, masked congregation.

For months, my siblings and I couldn’t visit. Now, with loosening restrictions, we will. There will be no Strings or Boxes at my house.

Unless they try to move in.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Do you crave space?

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Can’t Stop Singing!

O Lord, I’m so thankful. Yesterday, for the first time since the COVID-19 outbreak, our church choir, including Hubby and I, could join the angels in singing Your praises. We had to wear masks, and the angels didn’t. But OMG, what a joy to worship You together!  

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Still Riding Strong

O Lord, when Hubby and I first rode our new tandem, we nearly took out our neighbor’s trash cans. He wasn’t perfect then and isn’t now. And unlike Daisy, I don’t always “look sweet upon the seat of a bicycle built for two.” But OMG, thank You for 17 years and 5,500 miles of mostly fun cycling together without a crash.

Hubby and I at the Blueberry Festival, Plymouth, Indiana, circa 2006.