What a wonderful day, and made that much more wonderful by our return to Saskatchewan!
Our morning started out with the usual routine – a few who went back to sleep, a few down in the breakfast room without shoes, a few looking for their belongings, and a few licking their butt-kicked-wounds (given during last night’s Crib game!). Like lambs to the slaughter, those men were…..
Im exhausted, quite frankly. The 5 to 6 hours of sleep each night is just not cutting it for me. I’m thinking that it might concern some of you to know that I started my morning with 2 Extra-strength Tylenol and a swig of Pepsi (it was on the nightstand!). If I wouldnt have had that, i wouldn’t have made it onto the bus this morning. Not a chance!
In the breakfast room, sleepy kids came down one by one. You can really tell that the lack of sleep is starting to wear them down. They are starting to stagger, hair is completely amuck, a lot haven’t bothered with their shoes, those that do have their shoes, have toilet paper pieces dragging from the bottom of them. Like I said, they are tired!!!
After (verbally) kicking some butts into gear, we got the bus loaded up and prepped for a big driving day.
To begin, Mrs Amell presented the “Cleanest Room” awards. This hasn’t been a small task for her and Mrs. Hay. There have been a few times where they have entered some of the rooms and been lucky to emerge alive. I’m sure this doesn’t surprise some of you seeing as you live with these kids and apparently by the looks of it – still clean their room for them!
The cleanest room contest stepped up a notch yesterday. After one of the students made a comment in his journal that the “whole thing is rigged”, we realized that we needed to let some secrets out! So….we let a few more kids in on the previous winners’ secrets! And….the results were astounding. This morning when Mrs. Amell and Mrs. Hay went through rooms, they found the following:
1. Towels folded into hearts
2. Notes left (in handwriting) for the cleaning staff
3. Expertly made beds and towels folded
4. A substantial gift for the cleaning staff (apparently an iPod! – wow! That’s impressive!)
Rumour also has it that Jocelyn, Sydney, Alexia and Madison watched YouTube videos last night on towel-folding techniques! I saw their peacock-towel and I can attest that it was quite impressive. You can now rest assured about their futures – they will all be employed as bed making staff on cruise ships! (hey, at least they’ll always have Caribbean holidays!)
One of our cleanest rooms (from check in to check out) is definitely Alex and Jamie’s room. Pierrer and I were trying to figure out their secrets this morning and we are pretty certain that they must hang bungee cords for the ceiling and then sleep in a hovering position above the bed! We know for certain that their beds meet military-standards, and there’s never a thing left behind! Great Job guys.
One of our less-winning room teams consists of Brent, James, Garrette and Hayden. Apparently, they’ve been infested with a rodent who attacks their room during the night and tosses their clothes and belongings everywhere! I had to get some parental and chaperonal involvement to address this, so I asked Perrier to look into it! He later informed me that he went in and took care of the problem! Apparently, a Tasmanian Devil had gotten loose and was wreaking havoc on those poor boys! Now that Pierre took that devil out (bare-handed no less), we should see this room gain some glory!
Just as we were about to finish boarding the last of the students, along came a sight I will not soon forget. With a chaperone on one end and a student on the other, Darci’s luggage emerged from the hotel. What a sight! It was wrapped in a black garbage bag and fastened with duct tape. And just the way they stumbled about with it….so hilarious! Apparently, Darci has done some shopping and has had some packing issues….the end of which resulted in a torn bag (think zipper completely separated from the fabric, think clothes spilling out from the sides, think black garbage bag and duct tape………).
So, obviously a quick stop at WalMart, our usual stop at Tim Hortons and the we were on our way! Up out of the Drumheller valley and back on to the prairies! With a 5-6 hour drive ahead of us, we knew that we needed to get going.
One highlight of the drive was the movie selection. Mrs Amell made a stellar selection in choosing Back To The Future. I love that movie, and surprisingly enough, a lot of the students had seen it and echoed my sentiment. Thinking we were on to something, we threw in Back to the Future 2. Well, it wasn’t as much of a hit (the evidence of this being that it didn’t quiet them down, and in fact it possibly made them louder – is that possible?). An explanation to why they were so loud was given by Teresa who yelled from the back, “this movie really confuses me…..”. A chorus of agreement from around the bus (and their loudness!) led us to abandon our Michael J. Fox focus and we eventually just shut the movie off. (secretly, I agreed with Teresa, cuz that whole segment where Biff starts winning all the lotteries always throws me off!)
After a picnic in Walsh (on the Saskatchewan and Alberta border) and an impromptu football game (I think I overheard a chaperone looking for some Robaxacet!) we were soon on the road again. It was rainy throughout the day, which had us a bit worried about the upcoming golf game in my hometown (ahemm, it didn’t have me worried, pretty sure it didn’t have Nancy or Kelly worried either!).
Finally, we arrived in Ponteix (insert tears of joy!). I’m just going to say, cuz I know you’re all thinking it! “How awesome!”. Establishing itself amongst the greatest stops of this trip (Jasper Tramway, WestEd WaterPark and Paintball), my little hometown made quite an impression on our kids. First, they had a great meal at Ponteix Bakery and Restaurant. As they devoured the chicken and salads and dessert, I couldn’t help wondering if we had actually fed them on this trip! Many students had seconds, a few had thirds!
At Ponteix Bakery (which as you know is owned by my mom), Mr. Reid was honored to receive a store t-shirt with the logo and his name on it. My mom gave him the “lifetime employee” status, which is really something (only been received by me, my sisters and my 3 cousins!). And by really something, I mean it’s some kind of good deal that she’s got going on whereby you’re led to believe you’ve achieved some kind of status. Unfortunately, it really only means you now work for free whenever you return home for a visit. So…..my advice to Jim – only stop in at the bakery on your way OUT OF TOWN!!
A new stop this year, was a jaunt out to my family farm – the place where I grew up and a place worthy to be named a “World Heritage Site!”. Here, the students climbed the trees I climbed as a child, played on the rock where my siblings and I played house, chased the cats in the same barn I used to read novels in and chased each other across the yard in the same way I used to when I had just finished tattling on my brother!
After some great pictures, we travelled back into town to our final destination for the evening. Again, this was a new part of our trip that we hadn’t done before. We typically have lunch in Ponteix and then travel on to Moose Jaw. This year, we were being hosted by my high school and the students had the opportunity to stay in the gym for the night. Well, to say that they had a a great time would be a total understatement. They really needed to let loose, and let loose they did! From a whole group dance to ChaChaSlide, to a couple of games of volleyball bump, and some free time in the computer lab – they were all smiles and loaded with energy. At one point (actually at several points), I tried to count them to ensure they were all there but it was a total exercise in futility! They did not stop moving at all!
Finally after hours of running around, we settled them down for a movie. And by settling them down, I mean we semi-contained them in the gym with threats of punishments if they didn’t stop being happy (ahemm, I mean hyper!). They found a spot where they could see the projection and munched away on the hundreds of dollars of snacks they had bought earlier that day!
Thinking to myself that the men had it under control, I dozed off to the sounds of “We Bought A Zoo” in the background, only to be violently awakened by Mrs. Hay a few minutes later (and by violently awakened, I mean she must have shoved an airhorn in my ear because I shot up and scared her halfway back to Jasper!). Her claim that she merely whispered my name serves only as the final evidence that my nerves are completely shot! (Good thing they have two years to recover….).
Sydney told me, just as she went to bed, that this was her favorite night of all. I loved hearing that! The school staff was awesome, ensuring we had enough air mattresses and gym mats for our kids, giving us access to the computer lab and gym equipment and basically just making us feel at home! It was so great, and the evidence that the kids had relaxed and enjoyed themselves was obvious! (and by evidence I mean chairs askew in the lab after I asked them to push them in, hockey sticks and dodgeballs all over the gym floor after I said, “clean up” and snack garbage hidden under gym mats even though I provided a garbage!)! These kids…….(ahemmm…..your children!).
So, the students have now seen “Mrs. Parrish’s town” (none of them bothered to learn the name!)!. They’ve seen where I got my first kiss in Grade 1 (I even told them the kid, but that’s not web-info), I showed them (and semi-reinacted) where Mr Parrish first asked me out when I was in Grade 9, they’ve played on the courts that I played on as a teenager and they’ve laughed with their friends like I did for years! It was all awesome! I’m pretty sure they’ve now seen that Saskatchewan is FUN AND GREAT AND COOL! So, will that finally put an end to the Saskatchewan jokes…….I will hope!
A big, huge thank you to my parents for their work to make our stop wonderful. My dad took the men golfing (the clouds parted, the sun peeked through, sounds of Handel’s Chorus in the background!). My mom and her staff cooked a great meal which everyone loved! My parents hosted the kids out at the farm! Another thanks goes to Ponteix High School, who graciously hosted us and made our stay awesome. Thanks everyone.
“I really hope that I’m going to see a tornado today.”. (James)
Signing off, here’s some new trip by laws!
Trip Bylaw Appendix H
1. Create a YouTube video that explains” “Don’t go through the mud.” in a more effective manner. Apparently, “Don’t go through the mud.” is somewhat unclear.
2. Give 5 minute warning to small-town grocery stores that our students are coming to spend (think bulls in a china shop, then multiply it by 35).
3. Spend night at PHS every two years.
4. Pack Robaxacet.