Finally! I got them done! All before my 80th birthday! Yeah, I didn’t anticipate it taking quite so long to do this post… it took forever to edit all the pictures and videos. But at any rate, here they are, hope you enjoy them!

We went camping in the beginning of June at the Indian Boundary in Tellico Plains, TN. When we first got there, it was obscenely hot and so humid that we might as well have put on thick, damp wool coats and done jumping jacks. As soon as we stepped out of the cozy, air-conditioned car, we were drenched with sweat. I’m not even exaggerating. I had time to say, “Whoooo heee! Boy, it’s HOT out!” (yeah I can totally say that because I am SOUTHERN) and then little droplets of sweat started to bead on my forehead. Less than 30 seconds later, my pants were stuck to me like a stiff second skin and the sweat was not longer just beading on my face… the droplets had coalesced into RIVERS cascading down my temples and cheeks. The last time I sweated that much was when I was a kid and I thought about shoplifting a pair of socks. (I never actually stole them… I was convinced my sweaty face gave away my intended plot.) Well, that and sitting in a steam bath. (By the way, how can people breathe in those things? I always feel like I’m about to suffocate.) I digress. So anyway, Nathan’s face turned beet red from the heat, so I took his shirt off and let him play in some water to cool him down. Oh the misery of being roasted!

And oh yeah. You know the thing about boys playing in the dirt? Well, it’s true. I think they ALL like dirt. I could not for the life of me get my kid to stop playing in the dirt and gravel. And there was nothing I could do about it. The dirt/gravel was EVERYWHERE. I had to really force myself to calm down… all I could think about was previous campers walking in the bathroom, stepping in poop, and tracking it back to the campsite. I thought about all the rednecks that like to spit, and I thought about Nathan’s little hands swirling around in gravel with dried spit all over them. But I practiced deep breathing and told myself that the worst that would happen is that he would get sick (which he did… probably because he kept EATING the dirt).

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0dS9a22dQY

Yeah, did I mention I couldn’t stop him from flinging the little gravel bits? He liked to fill up a plastic bowl with dirt and gravel bits and them fling them everywhere. I was worried sick that he would fling it right into his eye and blind himself, but his grandma (Paul’s mom, who you can hear in the video) was able to get Nathan to be a little more careful.

Nathan was totally digging the whole being-outside-constantly thing. Paul’s mom and dad brought Bucky, a little plastic horse that Paul used to love riding on when he was Nathan’s age (although I don’t think Nathan’s Bucky is the exact same one that Paul rode… I remember Paul’s mom saying something about how Paul’s mysteriously disappeared so she got another one.)

Paul’s mom, Nathan, and I walked down to the little campground store (which, by the way, this kid LOVES to go walking. I can’t tell you how many times he would grab someone’s hand and say “Walk? Go walk?” and got Nathan some crayons and a coloring book. Nathan LOVES to color. Maybe he’ll be an artist one day like his mommy!

Nathan tried to color a different way this time. He piled all his crayons onto the coloring page and then colored AROUND them. Kids come up with the funniest ideas sometimes.

See? Look at him. Coloring AROUND the crayons. The kid has skillz, let me tell you. Because I couldn’t color around other crayons. No siree… I would have just flung them off the table and out of my way!

He even likes eating outside. I see many picnics in our future! His favorite foods are ANY fruit and vegetable. Here, he’s indulging on a tangelo… which he insisted was a ball. Paul’s mom let him play with a tangelo, and Nathan carried that thing around like some sort of prized possession, rolling it around and licking it (I still shudder at the thought.)

Delicious! I’ve worked very hard to get this kid to love healthy foods rather than that processed crap that leads to heart disease and diabetes. We’ve always had problems with getting this kid to eat… but now all we need to do is tell him if he eats what we give him, he can have fruit when he’s done!

While we were at the campground store, we fell in love with the cutest hat I think I’ve ever seen in my life! It has pictures of fishing lures and little bugs and such on it. Even Nathan loves it and- get this- he will actually wear it without yanking it off!

And he totally loves having his picture taken. Especially when he’s being bribed with something, like crayons or a book!

Nathan even posed with me for a few pictures. And there I am, hair a mess and no make up. But hey, it’s hot and we were camping, so who cares? It was so hot that I ditched my heat-trapping pants for a pair of Paul’s grandmother’s (Nathan’s great-grandmother’s) shorts.  Good thing she had a pair to fit me. I think I would have just disintegrated into a pile of ashes had she not.

Plus it helps that I was wearing my aviators my dad got me. That makes anyone look cool. Even when you’re hot and sweaty with frizzy, untamed hair.

To take our pictures, I flipped my camera’s LCD screen around so I could see ourselves as I was snapping the photos. Nathan thought that feature was really neat. He kept reaching for the screen, saying “Mommy! Mommy!” because, of course, he could see the two of us in the display.

The kid loves wagon rides. He was constantly trying to clamor into the wagon. After filling it with gravel and dirt, of course.

He had a total blast filling up his dump truck with dirt and gravel and then emptying it. If you have a little boy, you’ve gotta get them a dump truck. It’s well worth it, simply for the entertainment you yourself will get out of watching your kid play with it!

Even with all the fun, there were many times Nathan got into trouble. For whatever reason, he was REALLY testing his boundaries while we were camping. I knew it would be a little rough bringing a two-year-old on a three-day camping trip, but I had no idea it would be EXHAUSTING. I had to stay on him, watching him carefully, making sure he didn’t play with any electrical cords or eat anything worse than dirt.  So there was more than one occasion where he had to be told “No.” And the above picture is his standard reaction when he gets into trouble.

But that pitiful face can be turned into a smile simply by letting him wear my sunglasses. Future aviator, perhaps?

And what’s up with kids and their fascination with picking their nose? Unfortunately, this is pretty standard for Nathan. The funny thing is that he’s not digging around for those juicy morsels that make my stomach quiver with revulsion. No, he just likes to stick his finger in his nose and hold it there. As if that’s how he recharges himself… just plugs his finger into his nose.

Yes, that is a pink sippy cup you see there. But my kid is like the honey badger… he don’t give a shit. He just drinks that juice right out of a pink sippy cup. Oh, and can you read his shirt? It says “Who are you calling short?” A gift from Paul’s grandmother. I love it because hey, I have one really TALL kid. Like his daddy!

So the bumber of Paul’s parents’ camper was reflective and mirror-like, and Nathan was completely enchanted with it. The funny thing is that he would toddle over to it, see himself in the reflection, and say “No, no, no, no, no, no, no!” Over and over again. While putting rocks and gravel on the bumper.

This kid loves his apple juice. I don’t give him much… 1/4 juice mixed with 3/4 water. And this kid will drink the ENTIRE thing in one sitting.

Bath time was a little difficult. I wasn’t about to let him shower in the bathrooms (can anyone say GERMS!?) so we filled up a little plastic tub with water and ran a little more water through the coffee maker (without coffee in it, of course) so he could at least have a tepid, rather than freezing, bath. 

Getting him to sit down in the cool water was a bit of challenge, so we bribed him with a couple toys and… a tangelo! Hey, it worked. Sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do.

And the next day, our last day camping, we went swimming. And oh, Nathan LOVED it! His beautiful little face completely lit up when we took him into the water. He was wearing the same life-jacket Paul wore when he was Nathan’s age. Don’t worry, it’s in excellent condition. Besides, we never let go of Nathan… the life-jacket was simply to help us hold him.  (I wouldn’t dare take him into the water without one… it’s not worth the risk.) And the beach at the lake was simply breathtaking. It’s situated in a valley with beautiful mountains in the background. I could just about sit out there all day and drink in the beauty of it all.

 

 I really think I could have stared at this scene forever.

Nathan loves swimming with his daddy. The first day I took him, before Paul arrived at the campsite, the look on Nathan’s face was priceless. He beamed from ear to ear, his sweet smile completely lit up his face. He loves to go swimming, absolutely loves it. And see that guy on the left? I can’t help but giggle… the water only comes up to Paul’s waist but that guy looks like can’t touch.

Paul is REALLY GOOD at throwing Nathan up into the air and catching him. (I, on the other hand, don’t have the same strength Paul does, so I dare not try it!) Unfortunately, I didn’t get the look on Nathan’s face… his head is not in the picture! 

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kBw4dbXp_Rg

But I DID get an awesome video of Paul throwing Nathan into the air!

Taking a little breather after all that fun. Nathan is talking to his Daddy and playing with Paul’s shirt (which he wore to avoid sunburn.)

Pretending something. Swamp monsters, maybe?

I love this picture of the two of them. Paul is bringing Nathan to me so I can have fun playing with him while Paul takes some pictures.

My turn to play with the little guy! I know I can’t possibly be as fun as Daddy because I don’t have the same strength he does (although who knows? Maybe I will soon… if I keep working out like a beast the way I have been!) but Nathan doesn’t seem to mind. He likes the girlie jumps and splashes.

And I certainly can’t throw Nathan into the air. But I can still pretend like he’s flying… and Nathan loves it! Look at his legs… he doesn’t care that I’m too scared to let him go. I’m sure I’m not the only one, right? I mean, I hear that dads love to throw the kids up in the air… but us moms? Nah, we’re too chicken and (usually) rightfully so!

It was a perfect day to go swimming. It was hot outside, and the lake was mostly warm with a few refreshing cold spots. I wonder if Nathan thought it was like a giant bathtub? Because he was totally loving it. He loved when I held him, swung him around in a circle, and splashed with him. I was a water-bug when I was little so I’m thinking my child will be the same way. We need to get him into swimming lessons soon!

Lots and lots of splashing around!

When it was time to get out of the lake, however, Nathan turned into a Grumpy Gus. He did not want to leave, and it was even hard to get him to smile. He loved one of the games he and I played. See, on one of his episodes of Blue’s Clues, there’s a part where they’re teaching this dance. It goes “Slide, slide, pirouette… JUMP!” and so Nathan and I were doing that in the water. Listen to him saying it in the video…

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQPLsoIzJLo

 

And there it is, a beautiful smile!

The campsite has no cellphone signal, so in order to call someone or check your messages, you have to drive up the mountain to one of the overlooks. Signal was still spotty, but the breathtaking view totally makes up for it. See the large body of water? That’s the lake by the campsite. If you look closely, you can see the beach that we went to. A beautiful picture to conclude this really, REALLY long post!

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