Started a week's vacation by going camping Friday with our older three kids, their two cousins, and my parents. Actually my parents took them camping, and I came along to help even the odds. It was our kids' first real camping experience, and we did all the requisite things: marshmallow roast, spooky stories and campfire songs, fishing etc.

Since there were eight of us, and my parents' camper sleeps two adults and two kids semi-comfortably, I slept in the tent with Oldest Daughter and Younger Daughter, while Older Son slept in the camper with his cousins and grandparents. (Youngest Son stayed home with Gearmommy, who has only agreed to go camping in theory.) Everyone was overcrowded, and we succeeded in spreading the discomfort around evenly. Until it started to downpour.

You can't really appreciate sleeping in a tent in the rain with two kids until you understand that this tent was used by myself and my brother when we would take family camping trips, and that it was also used by my parents before they had children. It's heavy canvas, and it leaks at the seams, and smells. It's got a steep pitch to it, and when the rain hits it should run right off, but somehow the waterproofing has long since ceased to function, so that touching the sides causes the water to seep through. So we had effectively packed three people into a two-man tent, and created a sort of no man's land three inches from the wall of tent, all the way around.

Then factor in that my sleeping bag (not that I needed it in August) was right under the less-than-perfectly closed window of the tent, so that it was dripping on my pillow, and my feet were at the door of the tent, being dripped upon. (Did I mention that it was raining, and that the tent leaked? Well, I have now.) So in a vain attempt to remain dry, and to avoid my own brand of water torture, I curled up into a ball on top of my sleeping bag in the center of the tent, and did my best to not move for something like eight hours. Didn't really work. Of the three of us, my sleeping bag seemed to have absorbed the most water, having been strategically positioned under the biggest leaks. Woke up stiff as a board, too.

But you know what? I loved it. Not the tent, certainly, but the time. Spending time with my kids, building the kinds of memories I love of my own childhood: of family vacations and campfires, and expanding their horizons beyond their town and school and street and backyard. Teaching them about fishing and hiking, and leaving things in a better condition than you found them. And especially, teaching them that the time I spend with them is as important to me as it is to them.

Still on vacation for the rest of the week, and the weather's great so posting will be light. Meanwhile, enjoy your week. I will!