Posts Tagged ‘summer vacation’

Disney Bound

So our Everything Disney road trip has begun. In 22 hours we should be at The House of Mouse (also known as Disney World). If you’re on twitter you can follow along using the hashtag #EverythingDisney.

Camp is Not a Singles Bar

My kids love going to camp. Okay, maybe my three-year old has had enough, but the older two love it. And who can blame them. Hanging out with kids your age, playing crazy indoor/outdoor games, going on field trips to the ball game or bowling or Science Center. I’m not a big fan on repeating my youth but sometimes when I think of summer camp, I don’t know, maybe.

We’ve been lucky enough to have great leaders at our local city programs. They really care about the kids and come up with some cool ideas to keep them occupied (unlike mom camp which is full of ‘clean your room’ or ‘read quietly until I get this project done’).

This year my eight-year old tried a new camp, a swim camp, at the community center where the kids take their swimming lessons. This is a program that combines working on swim skills but has the fun game/field trip aspect of a traditional camp. She wanted to go, really. I didn’t force it on her.

Today is the half-way point to her camp (it’s two weeks long). She seems to enjoy it but isn’t as enthusiastic about it as other camps. So I had to ask:

ME: So are you enjoying the swim camp?
8YO: Oh yah, sure. It’s lots of fun.
ME: Great. Should we plan this camp again next year?
8YO: Ah, no. I don’t think I would want to do it again.
ME: Why? You don’t like the program? The kids?
8YO: No the kids are okay. The camp is fun too.
ME: [not sure what to say. Clearly I’m confused about why she doesn’t want to attend but the pause worked in my favour because…]
8YO: The counselor aren’t very friendly. I mean they’re friendly, to each other. They don’t really talk to the kids much.

I don’t know why I am surprised by this comment. The same counselors that run the day camp also run the swim lessons and to be honest there is a lot of flirting among instructors that goes on during the lessons. At first it bugged me. I mean my child is there, for your guidance, correct your focus. But actually the instructors (most of them) are really good with lessons; my kids’ swimming skills have greatly increased because of it and we will continue to go there this fall. But outside the pool things are different.

Some people may like that the counselors keep to themselves, only being there to guide the kids. My kids like the interaction, with both kids and adults, especially my oldest. I may be a mom but I remember what it was like to be young and single and flirtatious, I don’t begrudge the kids those feelings, but stow it until after camp.

So I’m pulling my daughter from her second week of swim camp and moving her into the regular summer camp. It’s closer to our house and the camp counselor/kid dynamic is completely different (we’ve been going there for a few years).

Before transferring my daughter out of the camp, I thought I should explain my decision to the co-ordinator versus just not showing up all next week. I’m the type of person who wants to know why you don’t like something (or do like something). If I was running the camp I would want to know, wouldn’t you?

The woman was very polite, listening to me. She tried to explain that what I was interpreting as flirting was just friendliness; that all the camp leaders know each other from high school. I think it’s great that the kids know each other; I think that comfort adds to the overall camp dynamic. But flirty behaviour and friendly behaviour are different, obviously different, at least to me. I told her it was completely my perspective and others might not see this behaviour as a negative (as I’m sure some of you reading this might think that way). That’s fine but my only concern is my kids and camp should be a fun and focused on the kids.

I don’t think the woman I spoke to took what I said to heart and I’m okay with that. I don’t expect expect the behaviour of the camp leaders will change because of the concerns I raised. Perhaps you think I’m over reacting. So be it. The only change that matters is my daughter will have a fantastic last week of camp with a group she really enjoys. That’s the important thing, to me.

Last Day of Camp

Friday was the last day of my 3-year-old’s first summer camp session. I think she really loved it. She went in as a little girl and came out a camp cat. Happy, until I told her we had to wash it off before bedtime.

Homecoming

Remember how I lamented at last week about summer camp. Well I survived. I didn’t think I would but I guess I’m made of stronger stuff. My oldest daughter arrived back from her week away camp on Saturday. We were at the pick-up spot first, in case the bus arrived early, which it didn’t of course.

When the bus pulled in I went to meet my daughter who bounded off the bus happy and tanned (seems she forgot how to use her sunscreen when away). She started talking about her whole trip, what she did and ate, the friends she made, the fun she had. She obviously had a great time so I wasn’t surprised when she said she wished she was still at camp. I guess the extra long week for us must have gone extra fast for her.

But she’s home. This week my two youngest are in day camp all day so it’s just the two of us which will be nice. I’m even thinking of treating her, well both of us, to a manicure session later this week. I think she’ll like that and I’ve heard it might help me with my habit.

So maybe this summer camp ordeal wasn’t so bad. Of course I might change my tune when my daughter asks to be away for 2-weeks next year.

Heading to the Beach: Guest Post on NTFFC

School’s out, vacation has begun and what better place to spend the hot summer days than at the beach. My July book review post on Allie‘s site No Time for Flashcards shares a few book about visiting the beach and exploring the water to help get your little ones ready for your next seaside visit. Pop over for a read. And if you have a beach book your kids enjoy I’d love to hear about it.

You can find my book reviews every first Saturday of the month over on No Time for Flash Cards. I hope you’ll pop by and check out some great books to share with your kids.

Top 10 Tuesday: Songs of Summer

There’s something about summer that time travels me back to my youth. Sweating in the hot sun. Eating popsicles on the front porch. Running through the sprinkler. Listening to summer songs on my dad’s car stereo as we drove around town. Just like certain smells can harken memories so can sound, especially those summer tunes that were so apart of growing up. Now that I’ve discovered Blip.fm I’ve been able to relive those moments, right here on my computer. So for Oh Amanda‘s Top Ten Tuesday post today I give you, in no particular order, the Top 10 Songs that make me thing of Summer (and I take no responsibility it these tunes stick in your head):

  1. Hot in the City, Billy Idol
  2. Summertime. Summertime, The Jamies
  3. Summer in the City, The Loving Spoonful
  4. Here Comes the Sun, George Harrison
  5. Car Wash, Rose Royce
  6. Let’s Go Trippin’, Dike Dale & The Deltones
  7. Going Up the Country, Canned Heat
  8. Summertime Blues, Eddie Cochran
  9. Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay, Otis Redding
  10. In the Summertime, Mungo Jerry

What songs make you think of summer?

Summer is about…Reading

There are many signs that summer is upon us, like starting summer camp or enjoying that lazy afternoon ice cream, but in our house summer is also greeted with books. My kids, all 3 of them, enjoy participating in the Toronto Public Library‘s Summer Reading Club program. They participated last year and had a great time (including an end of season party).

Today was the first day of sign-up though you can sign-up at any time during the summer. My kids wanted to get a jump on collecting their stickers to we signed-up today. The kids each received their poster (where to place their stickers) and an activity book full of puzzles and colouring and even recipes based on this year’s jungle theme. The activity guide also recommends some great jungle themed books the kids can read but you don’t have to stick to the jungle. The whole point is getting the kids reading. And with each book they read, and report on to the librarian, they get a sticker for their poster.

It can be hard to find something to occupy the kids during the summer, but the Toronto Summer Reading Club program keeps them entertained and reading and it’s FREE.

Going on a Trip: Guest Post on NTFFC

With school coming to an end and the warmer, sunnier weather finally upon us, June tends to have our family on the road more. My June book review post on Allie‘s site No Time for Flashcards shares a few books about going on a trip, to help get your kids in the traveling frame of mind. Pop over for a read. And if you have a travel book your kids enjoy I’d love to hear about it.

You can find my book reviews every first Saturday of the month over on No Time for Flash Cards. I hope you’ll pop by and check out some great books to share with your kids.

Picnic in the park. A new dining experience at Disney World.

I love visiting some of our favourite places to eat when we visit Disney World, but discovering new places can be pretty exciting too. Our most recent trip was no exception.

If you’ve ever visited Disney’s Animal Kingdom park you know it’s not like any of the other theme parks in Disney World. Walking through it you feel like you’re in another world, with large trees and exotic animals. Well now you can eat lunch out among the trees, a picnic.

A picnic in the park

When you enter Animal Kingdom, visit the Island Mercantile store not far from the entrance. Just around the corner from here you can pre-order your picnic. But make sure to order by 1:30 p.m. (it takes at least an hour and a half  to prepare your food from the time you place your order).

You have the option of ordering a selection of cold sandwiches or hot chicken and ham. All orders come with a choice of sides and dessert, as well as water to drink, napkins, plates and utensils. And everything is packed in a nice reusable canvas bag (that you get to keep).

Choose a hot lunch with chicken and ham...

Choose a hot lunch with chicken and ham...

...or a cold lunch with assorted gormet sandwhiches

...or a cold lunch with assorted gourmet sandwiches

When you place your order you’re given a map of the park outlining designated spots to eat. They’re spread all around the park so you can pick one in an area you enjoy or perhaps one close to the next attraction you plan on visiting. When your order is ready (you can select a pick-up time as long as it’s at least an hour and a half from the time you order), you can pick it up at the Kusafiri Coffee Shop & Bakery, adjacent to the Tusker House Restaurant in Africa.

Provided map marks all the picnic areas around the park

Provided map marks all the picnic areas around the park

You can order meals for two, three, four, five or six people in your party. And you can use your Disney Dining Plan for this too. One order equals one adult Quick Service meal.

Our family loved this dining option

When we tried the Picnic in the Park dining option, there was no line-up to place our order or to pick it up. This may change as the option becomes more popular. I was worried that the dining areas would be small and therefore full. But I was pleasantly surprised to find the designated eating areas were rather big and tucked off the main path. We had our choice of table in a shady area over looking a lagoon. It was nice not waiting in one of the food lines and eating in a crowded restaurant.

Since our visit to the park was on a hot day, we opted for the cold sandwich option. We tried a mix of sandwiches (we were ordering for four people) and they tasted very fresh. I was pleased to see they didn’t skimp on the sandwich contents; they were loaded with turkey and ham and whatever else we ordered. At the suggestion of the lady at the order counter we order chips as one of the sides, which meant everyone received their own bag, and balanced it with some nice fresh fruit salad. I was glad to see fruit was also a dessert option, though they did have sweets like brownies and cookies.

The Picnic in the Park was a huge success with our family and is definitely on our dining list the next time we visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Foto Friday: Road to Disney World

Happy Foto Friday

I’m participating again with Candid Carrie and her Friday Foto Finish Fiesta (you can see who else is playing by visiting her blog). It’s been two weeks since our vacation, but I’m still thinking about it.

Crossed into Pennsylvania

Crossed into Pennsylvania

...and then into West Virginia...

...and then into West Virginia...

...then North Carolina...

...then North Carolina...

...and South Carolina...

...and South Carolina...

...then through Georgia...

...then through Georgia...

...finally Florida

...finally Florida

Road to Disney World: one van, two adults, three kids, four movies, six bathroom breaks, eight US states (New York state and Virginia are missing from the sign tour), twenty hours in the van, twenty-four juice boxes and assorted snacks.

All this makes for a long car ride, but it’s worth it for a week in Disney World.