only the first night

First things first.

I have a guest post today over at The Kir Corner.  She is one of my most enthusiastic, loving cheerleaders supporters here in Sluiter Nation, and when she asked if I would share one of my proudest Mom Moments at her place?  I simply could not say no.

I will warn you, however, that I chose to go with something very recent and maybe not that exceptional for most moms. In fact, I am pretty sure it is totally run of the mill for most mamas of toddlers out there.  But for me?  And how stupid my PPD has been lately with this med thing?  It’s a proud moment indeed.

So go read that moment before I take you back in time to this moment….


I cuddled down into my sleeping bag that had been laid out neatly next to my cousin’s.  She was already softly sleeping, but I was yet vigilant.

I tried to close my eyes, but sleep didn’t come, so I stared up at the close green canvas.

I inhaled the dank, musty, comforting smell of my grandma’s tent camper as I listened to twigs pop and animals scurry.

The campfire had died down a couple hours ago, but its scent had permeated my hair, my jammies, and my pillow.

I rolled over carefully, knowing that any sharp movement would move the entire camper and draw out protests from my cousin.

As I slid my knees up to my chest, my bare feet felt the familiar friction of something.

We did everything we could to keep it out of the camper:  shoes and sandals off outside on the mat, a towel to to dust any stubborn grains, even a special water jug just for rinsing.  But somehow, there it was.

Sand in the bottom of my sleeping bag.

I wondered where they came from.

Most of the day was spent at the beach running across the hot sand to the lake to cool our scorched toes. Even in the water of the Great Lake sand had found it’s way into my bathing suit.

We had carried shovels and pails and strainers and boats and rafts and towels back with us, all covered in sand despite our best efforts to rinse and shake out.

However that evening after dinner we had all climbed the Dune.  Maybe this sand came from there.

It was always a race to the top.  All seven first cousins and an almost countless number of second cousins and other Camping Crew Kids that may or may not have been related to us sped up the mountain.

My aunt and Grandma were among the Dune climbers.

My Aunt Sandy would yell at us to be careful of the little kids, to not go into the undergrowth because of poison ivy, and good gracious this was a lot of work!

Grandma would encourage and hoot and holler as we kids made it to the top one by one.

Once to the top, the adults would have a sit down to rest while we all explored or just marveled at the Great Lake that stretched below us.

It wouldn’t be long before someone would make the call and begin the downward plummet back to the bottom.

Soon everyone would be hurling down the mountain, our legs getting carried away and turning to rubber.

Some of us would fall and roll in a spray of sand.

My aunt would pick us up, tell us to hold still, and attempt to rub the sand out of our hair, eyes, and crevices before we would all march exhaustively back to the camper or down the road to the General Store for ice cream.

Or maybe the sand at the end of my sleeping bag marched in from the campsite sand.

We would ride our bikes, play catch, and then bury our feet in the dirt by the fire as we made Hobo Pies and S’mores and listened to Grandma and her brother’s yodel and sing.

And maybe I had been too tired to get it all cleaned off before climbing into the bunk next to my cousin.

So now there was sand in my sleeping bag.

And it was only the first night.

About Katie

Just a small town girl...wait no. That is a Journey song. Katie Sluiter is a small town girl, but she is far from living in a lonely world. She is a middle school English teacher, writer, mother, and wife. Life has thrown her a fair share of challenges, but her belief is that writing through them makes her stronger.


  1. Oh sounds like a really fun time!

    And sand is a real bitch to clean off 🙂

  2. i went on a 3 week camping trip when i was 15. it was this camp my parents sent me to where we traveled the atlantic seaboard. it was beautiful but every single night, i had to sleep with sand in my sleeping bag. ugh!

    • I really can’t stand camping now, but back then I really liked it…maybe it was because it wasn’t REAL camping. It was in a campground at the beach near my home.

  3. Oh, the annoyances of camping! Mine was always rain. Always. It always rains when I camp and I am always under the direct dripping of said rain.

    Also? yodeling? HA!

    • I hate camping. These days it seems to always rain. and then everything is gross.

      and yes…my grandma and her sibs yodeled when they were kids on the farm to communicate with each other and they would do it around the campfire when we were kids!

  4. I love camping. It’s an excuse to be as dirty as I naturally wish to be (but society has all these rules about showering. boo).

    Sand. Mud. Sleeping bags. Bugs.

    It’s all okay – because that campfire smell in your hair and clothes?


    I’m so glad you mentioned the smell of smoke on you. I’m inhaling deeply just thinking about it.

    Happy memories…

  5. Such special memories, all of your family getting together like that. I love it.

    Sand in the sleeping bag is the WORST! It is impossible to get all of the sand brushed off before climbing in.

    S’mores. Yum!

    ….and I just can’t resist….Aunt SANDy. hehe Maybe you needed a different family member to help you get rid of the sand.

  6. I love this post! I couldn’t help participating this week, because summer in Michigan is intoxicating.

    This is so fitting:

    My Aunt Sandy would yell at us to be careful of the little kids, to not go into the undergrowth because of poison ivy, and good gracious this was a lot of work!

    because the kids are having a blast, obvlivious to all of the work involved. I love the images of all of the children jumbled together, related or not, enjoying the day.

    But I hate camping.

    I will do it, and I hope that (like so many things) I can see it through my kids’ eyes and ignore the parts about it that I dislike so much. I would prefer a five star resort. You know, one of the free ones out there, ha ha ha.

    • I really don’t love camping either…and neither did my parents. Once we were older, we just didn’t go anymore. It was just that once a year week with Grandma at the beach.

  7. You made me want to go there and be back in those days of childhood, with so much fun and no cares as a kid. I always loved it when we’d come home from the beach when i was a kid and there was still sand in our car but of course now it annoys me! ha! Wonderful memories here!

    • i know…those days were the best. when time was something we were unaware of, snacks were just there, and sand didn’t bug us.

  8. I don’t care for camping myself, and I have never camped by the beach, but I do know how troublesome that sand is. I caught myself brushing my legs off and running my feet against each other as I read your post.

    Just a couple of things I noticed–“…Hobo Pies and S’mores and listened to Grandma and her brother’s yodel and sing.” Did you mean to make this possessive?

    and this: “I wondered where they came from.” Who is they? I thought you were talking about the sand but they doesn’t really make sense if you are.

    Like I said, I’m not a camper, but I certainly went camping just this moment. Thank you for the vacation.

    Just curious, what is a hobo pie?

    • I really do not love camping. And I didn’t go any other time as a kid because my parents didn’t love it either.

      That one week at the beach campground with my grandma as awesome though.

      The possessive was a boo boo. I was going to stop at “my grandma and her brother’s yodel.” but then I added the sing without proofing my sentence. It should have been “and singing”.

      And “they” should have been “it”.

      This is what happens when I hammer out my post while my first period Spanish class takes their chapter test 🙂

      A hobo pie is so glorious. It is like a grilled cheese, but over the fire. There is a special hobo pie maker that you use that is like a skillet. You put a slice of bread in each side, fill the center with whatever you want (we love pizza fixin’s), close it up so it’s like a sandwich in the maker, and then nestle it into the coals to cook.

      and now my tummy is rumbling!

  9. What a fun memory!

    I remember going to beach as a kid. Every time we would bring sand back home. That stuff gets everywhere!

    • i know! even now, i don’t bother vacuuming my car in the summer because it is CONSTANTLY filled with sand!

  10. I love going to the Great Lakes during the summer… so much fun for everyone!

    My kids love S’mores & Hobo Pies and we have to make them almost every night we go camping. We’ve gotten pretty creative with the pies too! Nutella, banana, pie filling, PB & J, cheese, egg, and everything in between.

    • oh man! we do breakfast Hobo Pies on our annual canoe trip with Cort’s side of the family.

      Camping is not my favorite, but I can tough it out for two nights once a year. Back when I was a kid, staying with my Grandma at the State Park on the beach was the BEST! Even if it was only about 5 miles from home 🙂

  11. This took me right back to Girl Scout camp. I could feel your joy and contentment with this yearly gathering, how your memories were made up of times lie this.
    The line about the smell of the fire clinging to u was so good..and the word jammies just brought out the “little Katie” .
    I really loved this piece.

  12. Fun memories! We didn’t camp when I was a kid. The first time I went was on a float trip in my 20’s. It was a blast. But maybe that’s because we had a lot of Jello shots….

  13. Camping is not my favorite thing as a rule but you can’t beat Lake Michigan. Best ever!

    • i don’t love camping either, but there was something about that week in August with my grandma, aunt, and cousins.

  14. Above all the creepy crawly things, sand is the only thing I absolutely detest when camping. Grrr.

    • tell me about it. I MAY have been spotted drunkenly screaming about sand in the tent last summer. Allegedly. Ahem.

  15. My family camped all over Europe when I was a kid, and you won’t catch me anywhere near a campsite now. Too many horror movies with campers in them, I guess.

    I only had one pause when I was reading.

    “Soon everyone would be hurling down the mountain, our legs getting carried away and turning to rubber.”

    Maybe the word ‘hurtling’ would be a better description? I don’t know–it may just be me.

  16. Makes me almost miss the Great Lakes!! Though camping…not so much. 🙂 And the sand….as much as I love the feeling that I get from being on sand for any period of time, the insidious nature that you so descriptively portray, is my worst enemy!

    • I really despise camping. Really. But oh those days in night with my cousins? I think I love them more in my memory than I probably did at the time 🙂

  17. i can’t even stand a grain of sand in my bed – i can’t imagine a bunch in my sleeping bag! But it sounds like the fun you had getting sandy made it all worth it!

    Also, you have an it’s that should be an its; sand had found it’s way


    • Ok…I think I have been caught. I did not proofread this AT ALL. I let it fly from my fingers as my students tested and I hit publish as the bell rang.

      But yes, we had so much fun. I still hated the sand in my sleeping bag though. HATED.

  18. Yikes. Obviously permanently traumatizing.

  19. What a lovely, wonderful memory.

    (And I love that your Aunt is named Sandy.)

    I wish I could figure out a concrit, but I was too caught up to notice if anything was off. It was that good. 🙂