A Night At The Gardens

Let me just say this: Joining the Botanical Gardens is the best money I’ve ever spent. We pay $70 annually for our family membership and we get free general admission as well as an opportunity to participate in member’s only activities. Like Friday night’s camping trip. So. Much. Fun.

It was a pretty small gathering, maybe 20 families or so. We set up camp and NikkiZ thought the whole Tent Thing was the coolest thing EVER. I don’t know what amazed her more, that we built this house structure from out of a bag, or that we would be sleeping in it that night. Either way – she was totally impressed.


I knew about where we’d be camping on the property because I wanted to make sure we’d be near a bathroom, but I thought they were going to use the vacant area they use for the corn maze in the fall. Nope. We got to set up our tents all around the dogwood I have taken 900 pictures of this spring alone. We were one of the last families to set up camp and I couldn’t believe the spot right in front of the tree was still open. Most of the families seemed to want to camp around the dinosaurs, so the tree was all ours!


The very awesome Botanical Garden’s employees set up our campfires for dinner. We had hot dogs (cooked by LilZ) and s’mores for dessert. S’mores that NikkiZ denied, officially denouncing her as my daughter. Anyone want to claim her? A child who will NOT eat a s’more is NO CHILD OF MINE.

Actually – I let it pass because she ended up giving hers to me. So, we were all good again.


After we were done eating, it was time for a night-tour of the nature trails as well as a showing of Jurassic Park. That part of the evening was open to the public as part of the Dinosaur Uproar! events this spring/summer at the gardens. We didn’t make it long through the movie before NikkiZ started fading out. We (just the three of us) headed back through the gardens armed with only flashlights and it was a really cool walk. Going through an area under the blanket of nightfall that I know so well in daylight was surreal. And part of the reason I wanted to camp out there in the first place.

I learned about 5am why no one was camping by my tree. Because my beloved dogwood is inhabited by the MOST ANNOYING BIRDS EVER. They woke us up bright and early. So I shot them. The end. Or maybe not. But the thought did cross my mind.

We didn’t realize how cold it was until we removed ourselves from our sleeping bag bundles and exited the tent. NikkiZ and LilZ immediately went to the car and cranked up the heat so they could warm up and dry off. I had our whole camp taken down by about 6am, just in time for breakfast. I chatted with some of the Botanical Gardens employees over donuts and juice while my teenage son stayed in the car where it was warm. At least he used that as an excuse.

See? It was very chilly and while I brought socks, I only brought my flip flops. So – I was sporting the socked/flip-flop look which is VERY sexy. And — since it was so wet from the dew/fog that morning — my whole foot ensemble (socks and flip-flops) were soaking wet and covered in mud. I’ll admit, I haven’t been camping in awhile, and that mistake is evidence of that. I’m thinking LilZ was avoiding being seen with me so that no one would associate him with the crazy sock-footed, flip-flop wearing, muddy pants Lady. I did look a little KRAZEE.

Luckily, it was a kind group of people who were probably more concerned with whether or not I’d go into labor over the donut boxes than my choice of footwear.

All-in-all? A wonderful night. I slept better than I thought I would, only waking up to reposition a few times throughout the night. I got some great pictures that morning of sunrise and the morning mist. Pictures I’d never have gotten otherwise. I got to meet some really awesome Garden employees including this one lady who I’ve decided I want to be when I grow up.



I can’t wait for the next overnighter, which they might have this summer. MrZ said he’ll come with us then, because we hyped it up so much when we got home. He won’t have an excuse next time now that our house is officially BLUE! He’s done painting! (Except for the trim, of course.) And he’ll totally cover my ass and make sure I don’t humiliate myself with socks and flip-flops again. He’s a good husband, you know.

27 thoughts on “A Night At The Gardens”

  1. What a great way to spend the last w/end before AndyZ arrives, although I don’t know HOW you slept in a tent 9-months pregnant… I can barely even sleep in a bed!!

  2. how awesome is it that you guys got to do this? Camping is so much fun! Those morning pics are just amazing!!

  3. How awesome that you were able to camp by YOUR tree. I wish the NY Botanical Garden had an overnighter.

    So you didn’t take a photo of your unique ensemble? 🙂

  4. That looks amazing! I’m a little jealous. Our aquarium allows overnight stints, but sleeping with the fishes isn’t as appealing to me.

  5. I love camping!!!! I’m going in the summer but I beat the weather won’t hold up thats for sure it’ll probably rain all week!

    It’s a cool way to spend the weekend before AndyZ arrives!!! My family always found we were closer after camping because so much of it takes a team effort (my parents had a caravan but the awning was definately not a one person job!)

  6. I absolutely love that “through the trees” picture. Like, LOVE. I’m glad you all had a good time. I’ll bet people were kind of surprised to see a pregnant woman camping out. You are so hard-core.

  7. I don’t know what makes me more jealous: that you do this fun stuff (and HANDLE it so well) or that your pictures look so freakin’ amazing.

    It’s a tie.

  8. That is so cool! While I do. not. camp. period. I would have totally done that! I am so jealous of that botanical gardens. I so wish we had something similar here.

    Great photos as usual!!

  9. Oh, wow! While I am not a camper by any means, that looks like it was a lot of fun. And I am very impressed by your ability to sleep on the ground at the end of your pregnancy.

    That very first picture of NikkiZ is too precious, by the way. She looks awed.

  10. It looks and sounds like you had a fantastic time! What a wonderful way to spend your weekend. Great pictures. My fave is the curvy walk with the sun coming through in the background. It makes me want to sit down right there and take it all in.

    I am thinking and praying for an easy labor and delivery for you this week. I am so excited for you so I can only imagine what is going through your head right about now.

  11. my children also refuse s’mores. What is the deal? They’ll eat mud and snails..but not chocolate or marshmallows cooked on a stick “ES OLLL BLACK!” my four year told me indignantly as opposed to ….the snail!! which isn’t?

  12. Gorgeous pictures! So glad you were able to go, and that you had such fun.

  13. I’m so glad you had such a good time, I love the pic of NikkiZ in the tent! Wonderment. I agree with supertiff – can’t wait to see pics later this week!

  14. Your pictures from the early morning are amazing! What a wonderful gift you gave your kids before they are joined by your new little one. Sounds like a great experience.

  15. Wow. Those are absolutely gorgeous photos! I’ve never seen the gardens like that! However, no matter how awesome they are, it still doesn’t help the fact that you have made pregnant women everywhere green with jealousy!!
    HOW did you manage to go camping a few days away from giving birth?? you are one tough mama!

  16. I can see why you say your membership fee is well worth it. The Botanical Gardens are beautiful! What a fun thing to do with the kiddos before the new arrival. Good luck!

  17. Awesome! I love those pictures, especially the morning ones! I wish I could spend the night in the botanical gardens! Even if the little kids didn’t want to go, I would go by myself, just to be there. What fun!

  18. That looks like a most wonderful event. The pictures are GREAT! So glad you got to do this before AndyZ got here!!

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