Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Okay Band Kids - Get Healthy!!!!

As I listen to my kids cough, feel a few aches in my bones and see the FB posts all over about people fighting flus that won't quit this season, I can't help but think "8 sleeps?! Gotta be my best!"

There is nothing like being sick on a holiday to bring you down (or a bad sunburn - but that's for another post!). This is the time for 28 younglings (and us 6 chaperones!) to be sleeping well, drinking lots of water, eating healthy and drinking that OJ! If you've taken even the briefest glance at that itinerary we need healthy kids with lots of stamina on this trip!!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

2 Weeks to Orlando!

We had one of our last Band Parents Association meetings last night discussing the details of the senior high trip to Orlando on April 3rd. Now I'm super excited and so nervous!! I am responsible for 8 teens (grades 10-12) with 2 grade 9ers) while we're there... their money, their passports... yikes! The week-long trip is jammed packed, from performances in Downtown Disney and the Heritage Festival itself, to days in the parks, outings to the Kennedy Space Centre, Festival BBQs, Cocoa Beach, and of course, a little shopping! I am personally totally excited about the Harry Potter park!!! Wingardium Leviosa!!

We talked about what to include in a group first aid kit, what to make sure the kids have packed along, what we can pick up for the rooms (snacks etc) and how to make sure we have a safe and action filled trip! I for one am keeping my group on one of those preschool rope thingys... JK... sort of... 

I am SO looking forward to some sun! The last time we were in Florida we ran the Disney Half Marathon in their first dose of freezing rain in 30 years! Thanks for that! The forecast for next week is pretty warm, let's hope it holds out!

Been on a big school/group trip? Have tips? Let me know!

Friday, March 15, 2013

What a Trip!

We had such an amazing time in BC these past two weeks! Quality time with family and friends, amazing days on the slopes of Whistler Blackcomb and a beautiful time on Vancouver Island. The kids all agreed... "best BC trip ever!"

What makes a trip a good trip? It's pretty hard to make a vacation 'bad', unless everyone is stricken by the flu or someone breaks something. Even so... would you rather a broken leg at home or on the beach??? (always a silver lining right?) We've had some pretty awesome trips home to BC... what made this one the best?? To figure it out I sat down to look at this trip through the eyes of the kids.

A lot of things at home have changed over the past year. We used to consider 'home' as Abbotsford. We grew up there, our families were there and most of our friends are/were close by. Families are moving, friends are leaving and there's been a lot of downsizing! It starts to become a question of WHERE do we actually want to be on a vacation? We have been migrating more towards Whistler on our last few trips to BC. Our hearts seem to be there more often than not.

Last year we went for almost three weeks and packed up and moved every three days. Afterwards  I think we said "never again". We're six people and we're always the ones that have to move around because we're the visitors and it's just too difficult. We went from Abbotsford, to the US, to Vancouver, to Vancouver Island. While we got to see lots of people and have lots of different experiences - it was totally exhausting. We needed a vacation after that vacation!  So this time we booked ourselves one place for the first 11 days and only left once to attend a retirement party and dinner. This allowed the kids to settle in, get used to the space and feel 'at home'. We had lots of company and visited with friends that were also in Whistler which felt like a normal life, not a frantic holiday. (It was busy, there's no doubt, but it was awesome.) Some evenings we went skating or walking or just visited and slept a lot!

It's also a question of WHAT do we actually want to be doing? In general our trips west (all the way west, not what east-coasters call west; Toronto) are for something specific, a work locum, a family gathering, a birthday or some other sort of adult-centred event. We also try to pack into the trip the other things that we want to do; games night with old friends, BBQs, girl time on Robson etc. In and amongst those activities there might be a trip to the Aquarium, a day in the States or a few nights at the grandparents. We usually spend a LOT of time on the road.

While I'm happy to take a trip and make the kids tag along while I hang out with friends, this was much easier when they were small and didn't care much. But is this what the kids want to do at this stage? Not so much if there aren't other kids around, and it's getting harder and harder to coordinate kid time with all of the activities other kids are in or because of the fact that we're usually there during school time!

11 days in Whistler just means fun after fun after days of more fun. Ski? Skate? Swim? Play? Sure! The last time we were up there the kids were more hesitant about long days of skiing. They've always loved it, but that's a darn big mountain! They'd get tired, want days off, wanna lay low etc. This time it was non-stop awesomeness. They skied every day except one that we were there, even one massively miserable rainy day. They came in looking like we dunked them in a pool with their ski stuff on... smiling ear to ear! They collapsed in piles of exhaustiveness every single night and came up for breakfast in snow pants. Even little M conquered the mountain. Her first day was tough and then something clicked. I thought I'd be lucky to get a couple of half days of skiing in while she played with someone, but once she started she wouldn't stop! I got in 5 full days with her. What a blast!  At the end of our Whistler tour we hit Vancouver Island again for 2 nights. This was a bit of a shuffle, but was totally worth it. More family time again, seashell hunting, hot dog roast on the beach, ice cream shops and playing mannequins in a store window.

WHO is the other thing. This time we brought a friend for R, she is 17 and last time was hard for her. When we left last summer we said we would bring a friend the next time we go back. Most of our friend's kids are younger and her old friends are harder to coordinate schedules with. There's no question we can all have a great time together and where this was only a week for her I'm sure it would have been fine. But bringing a friend who had never seen BC and was able to have those experiences together with us was a great idea! We're getting closer to the end of assumed family holidays with her (graduation feels like it's around the corner) I want them to be the best and for her to still want to come along!

I guess from now on those holidays that aren't obviously kid centred need to be considered from their point of view. Will they still want to come along, leaving behind friends and activities if it means sitting around listening to adults visit? No, most likely not. Do I want it to continue to be exciting to travel as a family? Yes, most definitely. I will have to plan my own girl/adult time separately.

Whatever the reason, we had a great time and the kids were so thankful. I am so thankful to them, for their adventurous spirits, their willingness and their helpfulness!!

I do not however, recommend travelling forward 4.5 hour time changes on a Spring Forward time change. 5.5 hours is not fun.

Next Up: Orlando!