Thursday, July 29, 2010

Summer stuff

I have , for the past 12 months, been "suggesting" (aka nagging) my Breadwinner to get a swingset for the girls. The swings are of exceptional importance to them at any playground and sharing them with other children is oh so painful...oh what bliss to have their own at home. I began the online research. My only requirement was that it be a simple, sturdy, inexpensive swingset for two "swingers". I am not keen on this type of...ginormous thing because we have two rather large outdoor playhouses already, although I am sure Bear, Boo and Yum Yum would be delighted. No, I was looking something more like this. Why? because our home is rented, our stay subject to immigration laws, returning to Australia with a wooden structure not even worth the bother of trying (ie it would end up costing more to fumigate) and because the Breadwinner can't manage Lego let alone construct a safe playset.

We ended up with this....
A 10ft by 30" inflatable pool with filter. And I have to admit it was a better choice than a swingset. And much cheaper too. If we get a second year out of this pool that will be a bonus. As you can see we have it on our deck. The deck IS very large..I think it is something like 25 x 40ft. A seriously large deck with decking in seriously bad shape hence the grass carpet. The pool is the perfect size for Boo and Yum Yum and in the past 2 months they have FINALLY progressed to puttting their heads in the water. Yum Yum has even swum under water! That alone is worth the $. When the weather is warm enough the girls play in there for hours (they are good about bathroom breaks!). This summer has been exceptionally warm!

Last summer they were "swimming" in this....

They were just as happy!!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Away.... Club Med Florida

Our first trip away this summer was a wonderful surprise from the Breadwinner. He found a deal...and off we went to Florida to see what Club Med Sandpiper on the Port St Lucie River could do for our tired family. First was hot, really hot. And stormy. Florida in June. Being on the East coast and on a river, there was no oil from the Gulf present.

Our previous experience with Club Med was many moons ago and far far away...we visited Club Med in the Maldives last century, just for a meal. We have been waiting for the twins to be old enough to make use of the kids club. Our research on Club Med Sandpiper led us to expect a slightly run down resort with a Circus School, Kids Club, Mini Kids Club and thoroughly happy busy, well fed families. And that is exactly what we got.

Our trip was successful in that Bear was happy to hang out with some kids her age, do archery, try the trapeze, and sail on the river with her dad. Boo and Yum Yum were over the moon happy to be swimming, it helped their confidence in the water so much. Mini Kids Club was not such a big hit for them. They needed just another few days to be comfortable and get into the routine of kids club. There were many moments worth remembering and we all got tans.

The girls were good travellers, they LOVE airplanes, airports and hotels, and they were delighted at vision of the big swimming pools full of inflatables, by the variety and quality of the food available (as were we), not the least the soft serve ice cream machine. Yum Yum developed a crush on an acrobat and almost attempted the trapeze..she was on her way up the ladder up when fear overcame infatuation. Boo managed to tear the end of her big toe just two days before we left... but it wasn't long before she ventured into the pool despite being adamant that she would NOT be swimming because of her booboo.

On day 2 in Mini Kids camp we were summoned to collect our girls because they were both howling inconsolably. It turned out that Boo had been lifting Yum Yum off the ground ( a game that they seem to enjoy) and they were fine until Boo accidentally dropped her sister. All would have been well eventually had another child not tried to join the game and lift Boo. She was dropped. Boo does NOT do well with rough housing from kids she does not know. It was a perfect little storm that would have made no sense to the young women taking care of them. I could say it was a bit of a twin thing, but it probably just a Boo thing. An INTENSE Boo thing. Sigh. Each year gets a little easier- truly.( I'm hoping very much that they will be ready for ski school this winter.)

The staff are responsible for keeping everyone as happy and involved in activities as they wish to be. So when storms closed the pools down and people retreated to the large bar, they would set up games. We teamed up with a woman who was with her son and managed to do well in one such game... her teen son had downs syndrome so I think she was happy that we didn't shy away from them. We actually managed to watch a few World Cup Soccer games in the bar so maybe we got more of a break from the kids than we realised. I didn't manage to read anything though.

The accommodations were definitely dated but were roomy and clean. We had adjoining rooms, the girls had their own bathroom and walk in robe. Our only suggestion would be that some space in the large walk in robe be traded for some extra space in the bathroom. It's never good to have a door that just grazes the loo as it swings open. (Actually..why don't bathroom doors open outwards here in the US, makes me crazy..have they not heard of pocket doors?).

Would we return? Definitely once the resort is upgraded we would consider it. On the other hand we are loath to go to the same place twice when there are so many places still to see! Perhaps we would pick a different Club Med. We would stay longer than 4 days so that the kids could get into the rhythm of the place. The over-riding factor of course is the cost. Club Med is an all inclusive resort so up front it is an expensive proposition. In practice it means not worrying about each and every drink or snack you consume. The kids can help themselves and they will not be served alcohol. You have no need to leave the resort and why would you if all your meals are paid for and there are activities galore. As I said earlier..the variety and quality of the food was really impressive- whilst the standard American fare was available there was great salad, breads to die for, delicious fish dishes and a rotating menu of dishes from all over the world.

We happened to share our airport transfer with another family who caught the same flight as us. They have done other "all inclusive"s with kids clubs, actually they do it every year. They were far happier with what was on offer at Club Med for their family both activity and cost wise.
If you were looking for the singles scene that many Club Meds cater to, don't go to Sandpiper (try Cancun). Sandpiper is definitely a family place although there is an "adults only" pool for quiet time away from pool games. Then again...I doubt there are any party animals reading my blog.

Now where was I?

Oh my goodness, I kind of wandered off there for a bit. Do you know what happened?
Summer... just summer... getting outdoors, having a short break away and Bear, Boo and Yum Yum at home to entertain. Summer is the best kind of thing that can happen to me because I was really very tired of winter.

We celebrated with a girly manicure session... all of the colours of nail polish that are popular now inspired me to round out our collection of pink... to the entire rainbow.

The girls have been attending summer camp at the local elementary school and a gymnastics camp this week for Boo and Yum Yum. Boo and Yum Yum were so delighted after their first session , it was a bonus when they had face painting on the next day!
Back in the spring they had some rather stylish face paint done...

And so when I spotted a set of body art crayons in Claires, I bought them a put them away as an activity they could do with their big sister . Today was the day...

They enjoyed having their big sister's full attention, and Bear did her best to satisfy their whims by making butterfly and dragonfly faces , and flowers on their arms. Bear just scribbled all over her face in her excitment to see how the crayons worked. They went on easily and the colours remained lush.
Today we also had a visit from Mr Andy our plumber. For several weeks now, the girl's bathroom upstairs has had no hotwater to the bath/shower. We ignored this because we had some other more pressing repair situations - dishwasher and air conditioning had priority!
We have been a bit err, umm , less strict in the daily bath requirement for Boo and Yum Yum as a consequence. Stiff hair has become the new indicator of bath readiness, and we have been dragging them into our ensuite shower. Bear, being of a certain age, is required to shower more often of course, I could never let stiff hair happen to her- dreads!
So today, after a new tap/shower unit was installed, Boo and Yum Yum resumed the Barbie bath routine and guess what.
That Claire's doesn't come off easily. I'll be carting around some odd looking children tomorrow.