Tents, a campfire, the outdoors and a great adventure for four precious little boys- with all the conveniences of home for the old farts.
Yes, I had every intention of sneaking into the house alone to snuggle into my king sized bed as soon as everyone was asleep.
Our yard was in near perfect condition since we have spend EVERY FREAKING WEEKEND doing massive amounts of yard work. Sometimes it feels like all we do is labor on our property which is why my arms always look like they are saying, "Can I lift your tractor for you?" I was looking forward to the opportunity to actually enjoy our outdoor space. The grass was mowed, the weeds were pulled, the flowers looked beautiful, the garden was bountiful, the trees were trimmed and the patios were swept. We even set up our EZ-up tent over the patio furniture for some much needed shade from the intense Colorado sun. "Don't forget to stake that down!", I said to Brock.
Our friends arrived and we spent hours
I set out the plates, napkins, silverware and condiments. Brats were cooked and visions of S'mores were dancing in the children's heads.
I looked up at the still sky. It hadn't rained here in weeks. I said to J, "I wonder if it will rain tonight. I heard earlier in the week that there was a 10% chance."
J shrugged and said, "I didn't hear about any rain in the forecast. It looks fine."
I tilted my face to the sky and said, "It does. I guess we'll see."
The kids were corralled to a table, picking through our "camp out food". The enticing thought of roasting marshmallows on the open fire was overriding any interest in the beans and brats. There was no focus. Instead of using their forks to eat, they were playing an exciting game of "break the plastic utensil then laugh like a hyena". I walked over to jab a finger toward all the broken red handles and suggested they clean them up. That was when I noticed the breeze had picked up a bit.
I said, "Brock. The EZ-up tent NEEDS TO BE STAKED DOWN."
"It's FINE!" he insisted.
"No, it's NOT," I argued.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, came a hurricane force wind accompanied by a hard driving rain. Everyone kicked into "go mode" and started grabbing important items. I took down the umbrella as my girlfriend hauled in loads of food. Brock finally took notice of the EZ-up tent and started to disassemble it. The boys were at the table under the patio roof and my little Thing 2 whimpered, "I want to go inside!" I scooped him into my arms and headed for the back door as I saw D with the other three boys. Perfect. He would keep them safe. I ran back outside into the frenzied storm and gathered up as much from the table as I could.
Cell phones. Check. Things made of glass. Check. Umbrella. Check. Food. Check. Kids.... where the fuck were the other three kids?????
I looked at the back door to Thing 2, where he was watching the violent storm ravage our yard. The tents that took almost an hour to set up were blowing sideways, barely still upright. Branches were breaking from the trees and crashing down everywhere. Thing 2 started crying. I scooped him up in my arms as I frantically looked around for D and the other three boys. I saw nothing.
Where the hell were they?
Brock ran up to me, dripping wet and asked, "What else can I get?"
I yelled, "GET THE KIDS!!!!"
Brock and J ran into the yard on a frantic search as I tried to soothe my three year old while the frightened dogs attached themselves to my legs.
Then the hail started. It pounded the roof and ripped at the thin fabric of our tents. The relentless wind seemed to be coming from every direction at once, clawing at everything in its path. The noise was ear piercing. It was scary. And I still didn't know where three children had gone.
Brock sprinted to the tent. He opened the flap and discovered what appeared to be four cold and scared refugees. D was standing in the center of the tent with his hands clamped on the poles, holding the tent together, and the wee ones were huddled around him, tearfully clinging to his legs.
Finally, through the marble sized hail, I saw three adults running from the tents through the harsh elements, each of them with a child. Praise the Lord.
Then we all watched in stunned silence as D's tent crumpled in half and blew over.
Someone had to point out the obvious. Of course it was me. I said, "Going to a tent during a tornado is sort of like finding the tallest lone tree to sit under during a lightening storm."
D said, "I thought it would be cozy in there. I thought it be fun for the kids to listen to the rain from inside the tent."
We all stared at him in silence.
One of the children started sobbing. "BUT I WANTED S'MORES!!!!"
"Don't worry!" I said. "I'm making them right now!"
I put half a graham cracker, a square of chocolate and a marshmallow on a plate, popped it in the microwave and pushed 20 seconds. Then, like a moron, I stood in front of the microwave and watched the white sugar blimp up like a college freshman. Then, I removed it from the microwave and smashed the other half of the graham cracker on top. Voila! S'MORES.
Just like that, the children were happy.
The four giant trees that lost major branches, our tents and the back window of D and J's car, however, did not fair so well.
So the yard work continues....
We put the little ones to bed in a tangle of ruffled blond hair and pillows for their very first slumber party. It was complete and utter preciousness.
The adults stayed up until midnight playing Texas Hold 'Em with our John Wayne poker set. Brock, the most unassuming, distracted poker player on the planet, won almost the entire pot. Naturally.
Then the next day he reassembled and staked down our EZ-up tent.