Saturday, August 22, 2009

Fun in the Sun -- Talking Points

Husband and I spent a lot of time deciding what to do for our summer vacation this year. If we had money to burn and full time nannies on retainer, we could no doubt come up with countless fantastic trips visiting castles in Europe and swimming with the dolphins in Costa Rica. Such is not the case, however.

Last year we had planned a "staycation" -- day trips from home. As we started planning, we realized some of the fun things were located close to each other an hour plus from our house and it made sense to find a cheap hotel to spend a couple nights. Which is what we did.

It turned out alright. We enjoyed the water slides. But Jackson could not get into the rhythm of the vacation. Only 2 nights away and a different activity every day did little to quell his desire for routine and the result was a tendency to become unglued. Only in very public places.

So this year we decide a week in one spot was in order. We booked a week in an RV, with many comforts of home (washer, dryer, microwave) and one comfort we don't have (AC). The community where this is located is minutes from Cultus Lake and has a pool, hot tub (!!), tennis courts, open field. Not only that, but we have friends with a cabin in the area and other friends who had a place booked at the same time.

The place had plenty to keep the kids busy. Jackson snorkeled constantly looking for fish in the lake or just examining the bottom of the pool. As expected, we were kept busy but burned sufficient calories in the first several days to keep up with the extra calories we were indulging in snacks, even if the smores were prepared in the microwave due to a campfire ban. We swam at least twice a day, played tennis, went for walks. This meant the kids were hungry NON STOP. We needed snack dispensers on our bathing suits so we could whip out a yogurt tube, some fishy crackers or grapes at any moment. The sun, fresh air and activity had us all worn out by bedtime. One night Jackson asked if I could finish his game for him as he was too tired and needed to go to bed. This is foreign territory for us.

We made special memories at the waterslides where I suffered a slight whiplash on the "Valley of Fear" (this added to the rib injury I endured when I fell off a chair and landed on a laundry basket). We also mini golfed and tried our best to enjoy pizza amid an infestation of wasps of biblical proportions.

How did the kids do? Well, Jackson did play his DS a fair bit. We were a little taken off guard that "satellite TV", which we expected to be kid channels in 9 different times zones and 3 languages, meant only basic TV channels. Not Family Channel or Teletoon, their current favourites. This meant we did not have kids shows at ready access. Thank goodness I asked them each to pick 3 DVDs to bring along. And a bigger THANK GOODNESS that Jackson chose for one of his picks a 4 DVD pack of Veggietales. And an even bigger THANK GOODNESS that I chose not to call him on a technicality that 4 DVDs cannot count as one pick, as I would do 99% of the time. The Veggietales went a long way to maintaining their catatonic state amusing them in the non-pool hours.

Confined to a tiny space had its challenges, but being outside and active meant the RV was for regaining our stamina for the next adventure. The place actually had 2 tiny bedrooms so we could recline in comfort at opposite ends of the trailer and they could still hear us yell "quit tormenting each other" without either one of us having to put our drinks down.

By Thursday, the last full day of our vacation, something quite unusual happened. We only had one trip out during the day and that was a wasp-shortened trip to the beach. Husband and I played 2, yes TWO, games of cribbage DURING THE DAY when the kids were awake. Sure, by the second game, Sydney was asking "is that a board game or a card game? Because I see a board, but you also have cards." and "can I move the pegs for you Mommy?" But still we completed 2 games.

But what of the boredom factor and the J Boy? Jackson did tell us "I don't know what to do" a couple times, but it wasn't like the desperate "I'm bored" which is said with the subtext of "if I don't have something really cool to do in 10 seconds my brain will be deprived of oxygen." He was ... mellow by Jackson standards. He was satisfied with tying himself up in knots (see photo) and swatting flies. He is never like that. He is excited about something, or looking for the next thing to get excited about.

By late in the date on the eve of our departure his ennui was back and he was aching for something to occupy his buzzing brain (as Husband calls it). He finally came up with the idea of making his own office in our house. This meant he had to draw up plans for how to accomplish this goal, complete with diagrams. And by bedtime he was very anxious to get home.

It's gonna be a long road home.

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