Time for a Nap or Two

Day 10. 
I hit a wall today (figuratively not literally, although who knows – I totally could run right into a wall and not realize it, I’m LITERALLY SO TIRED!).  

Waking up at my parents farm, I knew that I needed some sleep (badly) and that I would have to get some on the bus this afternoon. I’d worry about setting a bad example for the kids (seeing as we have a rule about not napping) but they’re mostly asleep whenever we get on the bus, so I don’t think it really matters!
Not sure why they needed to sleep so much today as they all slept in at the farm. I couldn’t believe that they would be able to have such a good sleep in their “spots” but they all claim they have…..(if they’re texting you and saying it was AWFUL, I don’t even want to know, cuz IGNORANCE IS BLISS and also IGNORANCE is not having to deal with it!!).

Our bus driving team told us that the kids are “so wonderful” this morning (which clearly indicates to me that they ARE NOT FIT TO DRIVE!). 🙂 They have noticed how many of them are very helpful and polite. This morning, they went to load the suitcases on to the bus as the mechanic finished up. They selected a few random kids to help (which they did) and then a few more gave a helping hand as well. I’d love to tell you that they’re going to be as HELPFUL and COURTEOUS upon their home arrival, but I’m pretty sure it’s all Ms. From’s and my influence (so you’re out of luck, sorry about that!).

From the farm (where apparently my mom makes the “best cinnamon buns I’ve ever had” and “your dad let me drive the tractor even though I’ve never it done it before’) we were quickly enroute to Regina. Our arrival at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum was met with dismal news – there was a live snake exhibit and it was feeding time! You’d think I’d have more of a stomach for this seeing as I did HUNT rattlesnakes with my older cousins when I was kid (that’s why I’m so tough, you see!)….Even given that experience, I wasn’t too into it.  

Many of your kids were though, which makes me even more sure that I’ve profiled them accurately when I take on a defensive stance whenever they approach me! They watched in GLEE as the little mouse babies were consumed by the snake (so gross, I’m just saying!) and then as the mouse moved through the snakes body. The detail they used to describe this would have certainly come in valuable during their Literacy lessons in the past year!  

We shortened our museum visit from 90 to 60 minutes to make up a bit of time and the kids were on the bus soon after the one hour mark. Except THAT ONE KID. Poor Aubrey got left behind because she was “so into” the exhibits and was reading loads of information and learning lots of stuff. Which endeared her to me A LOT because it was all about Saskatchewan and she’s usually running late because she’s doing her hair and makeup, THEREFORE I knew that this Saskatchewan information was REALLY, REALLY important to her!

Departing from Regina, it was a sleep for me (after threatening SUMMER SCHOOL to any kid who woke me up!). They took this pretty seriously, most of them went to sleep themselves just to ensure they didn’t end up waking me. At one point, I think the saying, “Don’t wake the sleeping bear…” was tearfully whispered between a couple kids….

After the Royal Saskatchewan Museum (which I totally recommend to anyone travelling through Regina) we were back on the highway and heading East. I asked a few students if they liked the life-size dioramas or the miniature diaromas more? They were divided mostly, but some asked, “what’s a diorama? I only made it to the gift shop….” (sigh).

Our arrival in Brandon was a bit later than usual so we went straight to supper (Montana’s!) and planned for a late check-in. Supper on the last evening has been a tradition for years (with kids typically dressing up in their fanciest clothes, doing their hair, wearing perfume/cologne and then still acting like they’re on the playground!). We called it the “un-fancy” supper because most of them didn’t shower at the farm this morning (don’t worry…I did!) and many of them look carazy after sleeping on the bus most of the day!

The staff were great though and didn’t mind at all that we brought them 29 ravenous, unkempt, stinky kids! They were more than happy to accommodate their meal requests (Allyssa, “Mac and Cheese with no bacon please.” – Ok. What? Me, “Just throw that bacon on whatever I order!”). Some shared meals because it was “have a dessert if you want to….” The staff expressed some surprise at our travel itinerary and commended us on lasting this long (it’s amazing what existing on adrenaline can accomplish).  

From there, we had our LAST HOTEL CHECK-IN! (Woot!). In other news, they’ve also finally learned to enter quietly, stay in their rooms and converse so other rooms don’t hear you. If we’ve accomplished nothing else this trip, it will all have been worth it!  

It was midnight as they fell asleep (some are “staying up all night but don’t tell Mrs. Parrish… (ummmm, I’m right behind you!)) and not long after when I was tucked in as well (with zero intentions of staying awake even a millisecond longer than I had to….).  
We’re bringing your kids back to you tomorrow (that’s a threat OR a promise, depending on which kids we’re talking about!). Good night! 🙂

Hello My Love (aka Driving into Saskatchewan)

The kids are all in trouble because they were super SUPER rude today! In fact, everyone EVERYONE has to write a big LONG APOLOGY letter to me…..(I’ll publish them in a book and make money from it, don’t you worry!).
Here’s what happened, enroute to my parents’ farm, the students asked if they could watch a movie. Well, WELL I replied in a VERY KIND manner and said, “Why would you want to watch a movie, look at that beautiful scenery out the windows….”

Oh. My. Goodness. The jeering, the sneering! They were ruthless with their disdain and insults. So INCREDIBLY Rude.  

And that’s why they’re all writing sincere apology letters right now (while they watch Monsters Inc!).  
Before all that happened, they had a pretty eventful morning (as in they had their usual breakfast, packed their bags back up, hung out in the hallway and loitered in the parking lot waiting to board the bus!). ACTUALLY, they did meet a dinosaur who visited them in the hallway of the hotel room (which doesn’t happen every day!).
I’ve taken to multi-tasking (mostly because I’m running behind all the time and secondly because I’m dog-tired and wanting to get as much sleep as I can!). This morning Josee slept in (and by slept in, I mean she woke up mere minutes after her 5:15 alarm – she’s pretty much conditioned to get up at this time, with or without an alarm!).

Anyway, back to my multi-tasking. That’s why you would have found me bossing kids around a parking lot this morning while still brushing my teeth. It’s multi-tasking taken to an art form (in my opinion!).

Rumor has it that a busload of kids had to await Zac, Quinn and Jamie’s arrival. The three boys were lolling about in bed, just chillin’ when Ms. From walked in to check if their room was clean and emptied of its contents (which it was clean. and emptied of its contents. except 3 humans!). Upon advising them that they were a little out of area, they got up faster than students hearing the words, “gym time”. Impressive.  

Departing Drumheller, we realized that we forgot the pizzas. This would have been a catastrophe except the hotel is next to a McDonald’s which means we all got a topped-up-coffee! Ahhhhh, the little things in life!

The bus ride to Saskatchewan was pretty quiet (they are SO TIRED), except James who was listening to ringtones on his phone, which is APPARENTLY hilarious, because it involved 4 kids giggling their heads off and one comment I overheard, “ahahahha, this one is Mrs. Parrish’s ringtone”. I’m too tired to even care.

Lunch was awesome! All hands on deck by the chaperones who cut up fruit, prepped iced tea, assembled veggie platters and set up the buffet. Kayli said the lunch was “the best one yet” which we’re going to give her money for saying so because quite honestly, any compliments coming our way at this point have to have monetary value! It was super, super windy and about 10 plates and cups were picked right up off the picnic tables because of it. We thought we’d have to assemble them into a large group to tell them, “Kids, It’s. Really, Windy. Out”, but thankfully after about 10 plates had went flying, they realized it on their own….

From lunch, it was to THE FARM (my favorite spot on this whole trip and ahemm…in the WORLD!). As many of you know from my blogs (and if you’ve ever talked to me), I had a great childhood growing up in Southern Saskatchewan and wear my prairie-love proudly! It may surprise you to know that it wasn’t actually my idea to stop at the farm 6 years ago – it was Jim Reid’s! He said, “we should take the kids to Ponteix” and I was like, “for what?”. I didn’t realize how much the kids would love it, nor how much I would love seeing them love it!  
And love it they did! From the “best mantracker game ever” to a “lawn dance party” to a “homecooked meal” and “climbing huge trees (well I tried Mrs. Parrish….)”, they spent the late afternoon and early evening having a great time. 

 Scanning the farm from my vantage point (a comfy chair in the garage), I could see them enjoying themselves and their time with their friends. Supper was catered by Ponteix Bakery and Restuarant (which my mom used to own), tractor rides were provided by my dad! The mantracker game was complete with Dale’s trailer from The Walking Dead (they loved this!) and loads of vehicles they could hide in and under. Jakob had the GREATEST hiding spot – except that we were all having supper while he giggled with glee at his cleverness! Thankfully, Quinn looked around and saw him missing (and took initiative to find him, cuz I was too busy enjoying the chicken and macaroni salad!).  

Students with the penny boards enjoyed some free time learning how to ride them – which I commended them on until one flew out from their attempted trick and pegged me in the shins, “No one is allowed penny boards from now until you’re 20!” (or at least until I’m a minimum 1 kilometre away!”

We stretched out the evening because everyone was having the greatest time. Kids were happy to have the time to JUST PLAY, and I was happy to just sit and visit with my parents! Around 7:30, we decided to head into town to begin our gym-camp-out. Most of the kids were somewhat tuckered out (and by “most” I mean, 1 or 2 because the other 27-28 of them never seem to run out of energy, which is awful and awesome in equal measure).  

Unfortunately, the bus had difficulty starting and after some quick troubleshooting, the kids were told “go and play some more”. My dad called the neighbour (a high school friend who is also a diesel mechanic) and the men put their heads together to figure out the issue. Within a fairly short amount of time, they had it figured out and were problem solving how to get the part and a mechanic to the farm. We advised the kids that they were staying at the farm and expected to hear some groans. Instead, they happily started unpacking the bus, setting up beds and just being generally the MOST AMAZING KIDS EVER (why aren’t they like that all year long….).  
The boys set up in two locations (the 5th wheel and the garage). Garage kids got top priority on air mattresses and blankets which seemed almost not worth it seeing as Jamie, Zac and Quinn were begging to sleep “under the stars”. In fact, when I told them that there are coyotes on the farm, they looked at me trying to figure out how that was a problem (this. I. cannot. understand.).
Mr. Renner and the boys did some glamping in the camper with a pretty sweet deal that a hotel room would have had a hard time beating (and a gymnasium floor wouldn’t stand a chance against!).  

Sabrina, Taylor, Jinelle and Jade got my brother’s room (which has a KING SIZED bed in there, which I am NOT BITTER about at ALL….). They set up to sleep perpendicular to its usual orientation which was cool except that Taylor’s long legs were well over the edge!

Shayne, Trisha, Kristy and Aubrey slept in my sister, Melissa’s room. Rumour has it that they stayed up late “learning how to twerk….(insert giggle, giggle, giggle)” so I’m glad I didn’t check on them AT ALL.
Kayli started off in the lazy boy but moved to the memory foam (“I actually had a good sleep, Mrs. Parrish….”). Emily, Emma, Brooklyn, Landon, Ruby, Allyssa, set up home bases on air mattresses in the downstairs rumpus room (I think this was the first group asleep!). They settled in quickly and (I think) were sleeping before 11 (except when Trisha woke the whole bunch up by flopping on to Emma and Brooklyn’s air mattress (thanks Trisha!)). 

Chaperones stayed up to visit with my parents, but I was pretty much out of it with tiredness. I was guzzling coffee like these kids with their Starbucks drinks, but it didn’t seem to help one bit! By midnight we were all in bed with hopes of a quick-bus-fix and a lot of thankfulness about just-how-awesome-can-these-kids be! They have been really “go with the flow” which is what you really, really need when there’s 29 of you and you’re travelling 5000 kilometres! 

So, although things didn’t go as planned, we made the best of it! Of all the times to have bus trouble, this was okay. We weren’t stranded on the side of the highway, we weren’t confined to hotel rooms, we weren’t too far from the mechanic or the parts….In fact, we had a place to stay – an absolutely awesome, amazing, wonderful (and FREE!) place to stay! I think Kayli said it best when she commented, “that was so good, Mrs.Parrish”.  🙂 

We’ve started Behaving Like Your Children

With no small amount of embarrassment and a hefty dose of shame, I begin this blog post by saying, “We’re setting the worst example for your kids.” And as well, “I’d apologize but I’m pretty sure it could happen again….”. Also, “We’ll pay back the money we owe your kids when we get paid in September!” 

And finally, “IT’S ALL THEIR FAULT!”
(Eyes downcast, big sigh!)

The whole shebunckle started innocently enough when I texted my sister last night to ask which mall we could meet at for lunch (after the Zoo). She stated we should probably head to Cross Iron Mills Mall as it’s enroute to Drumheller.
Cross. Iron. Mills.  

Oh my goodness, I really, really like that mall (even more than West Edmonton Mall) and have already played drop-a-grand there in my travels to Calgary (psst….don’t tell Ron!). 🙂  
It’s a great mall and I highly recommend you checking it out if you’re in Alberta – they’ve got a huge Bass Pro Shop (which I care absolutely zero for!) and loads of outlets of actual great stores! It’s huge (109 000 square metres) and has 206 shops. Something for everyone!

Anyway, like I said, it did start innocently enough with GOOD INTENTIONS to head to the food court and feed the kids. All of a sudden, Jen and Sandy (our bus driver who could out-shop Jen!) had extended our 20 minute lunch break to a 2 hour “Mall Exploration of Modern Day Architecture” study. Kids were VERY HAPPY (Randolf told me, “There’s !3! stores here I want to shop at! Can you believe it?”). I would have set some limits on them, but I was busy clicking my heels in glee and checking if I had any more room left on my VISA!

With the kids settled in to lunch and shopping, Ms. From, my sister Melissa and I went into a fevered shopping frenzy (think 29 kids heading in to a souvenir shop in any Alberta location on this trip!)! We were rushing into stores, grabbing 10 to 3000 items off the rack, quickly trying items on, throwing discards at unsuspecting retail workers and whipping our Visas at the cashiers (“Charge it!”). It wasn’t pretty AT ALL. When my Visa was refused, I grabbed random GLC kids, turned them upside down and shook them until the change poured out of their pockets….Frustrating, really, because they’ve got so little money left – I mostly got nickels from them. A few unlucky kids gave up twenties cuz their parents just e-transferred them more money (thanks Mel for my new shoes and thanks Darlene for the cute top and sweater you just bought for Jen!).  

With some chagrin (as much as I could muster with two heavily-laden arms weighed down by shopping bags!), I tried to redeem myself with the kids (and with my own conscience). I wanted to feel sorry for my actions, I really, really did!
But. Then. I saw your kids…..
(Some of you must be in SO MUCH DEBT BY NOW!). 🙂 They had shopped and shopped again! And you know what, they’re getting to be such savvy shoppers too! One of them told me, “You know what, the stores are having so many sales! It’s like they knew we were coming….” (sigh)

Apparently they NEEDED penny boards (a type of skateboard where you pay the same price as a full skateboard – but you only get a half of a board for your money..). “We got such a good deal on these Mrs. Parrish!”

After a quick hug with my sister and Pyvie (my super-cute niece who just turned 4 on Monday, we were back on the bus and enroute to Drumheller. I took on HERO STATUS (yet again….) when the kids realized that it was only an hour to Drumheller rather than the three hours I had told them it would be (I somehow managed to turn this around into a “I wanted to surprise you guys….” which is why they were showing the love (rather than exhibiting their typical disdain).  
When we got to Drumheller, we decided to blitz the three excursions (Royal Tyrrell Museum, hoodoos and suspension bridge) because (a) I’m exhausted and (b) I’m really exhausted!

The museum was fabulous (as you know if you’ve been there) and amazing (because SO ARE DINOSAURS!). It’s a combination of Science and Art with the majestic displays that pull you right into Earth’s history. Aubrey was very intuitive when she told me that “it makes me kind of sad…” and Sabrina and Ruby were pulled (kicking and screaming!) from the museum (LIKE ABOUT 45 MINUTES AFTER EVERYONE ELSE WAS DONE!). Sabrina even told me, “I like dinosaurs now….”. (She was previously devoted to her first Science love, “Space, all things Space”. 🙂

Many of the kids chose the audio recordings to guide them through the museum (17 of them in fact!). Ms. From had told me that a number of them had appreciated the audio devices at the SkyWalk and so we gave them two options in Drumheller – the homework sheet or the audio devices. No wonder SO MANY hands went up when the choice was offered. Heaven knows they wouldn’t want to do any more homework on this trip then they typically want to do during the school year!  

Except Kristy of course who likes homework like Taylor Swift likes writing about her breakups….

The hoodoos were their typical terrifying self. This is Ms. From’s most dreaded part of the trip (mine is getting on the bus in Balmertown….)! We didn’t have to worry a bit though! Once we realized our terror had been fed by our last trip’s chaperones (ahemm…Ron, Chris and Darrin) AND that none of the kids would RUN LIKE CRAZY, RISKING THEIR VERY LIVES if these guys weren’t there issuing challenges like., ‘Hey! Let’s all run down and risk our lives…” everything was A-OK. Kids stayed safe and had a good time.  

Randolf took a minute to consider the intricacies of our world – a great thing to do when we’re herding 28 kids on to the bus! All of a sudden, EVERYONE wants to sit and stare at the sky (“If Randy’s allowed, why can’t I….”).

Matthew and Connor were dressed alike on the way to the suspension bridge (“Take a picture of us, MP! Take a picture of us, MP! Take a picture of us, MP!” ….. “MATTHEW! Seriously! I will in a minute!”) Bradford and Matthew were also matching but I missed that photo opportunity (because Matthew only asked me ONCE!).

Suspension bridge was okay, highlights here were Sabrina’s mid-bridge cartwheel and Shayne’s handstand. Both were commendable in my eyes because it’s just metal grating underneath us (and a RIVER!). I was busy holding on to my phone because I was pretty sure with my jumpy nerves and general clumsiness it could end up in the river faster than I can say, “Whose pillow is this on the floor?” or “Who left their phone on the back of this toilet?”.  

Supper credits go to Ms. From who ordered pizza, wings and chicken fingers from a great place in Drumheller. The kids ate in the breakfast room and then swam until 9:30. Once confined to their rooms, we found them peacefully watching TV and writing in their journals. Speaking of watching TV, they’re so diverse with their TV watching habits (which kind of surprises me because they mostly behave with a herd-kind-of-mob-mentality!). Shayne, Landon, and Kayli have been watching cooking shows (the Food Network) – as have Emma, Emily, Brooklyn and Allyssa; Riley, Matthew, Seth and Connor have thrown a couple of movies on; Zac, Quinn and Jamie have watched “Yukon Trappers” and “Border Security” (yawn, big yawn….); James, Jakob, Lukas and Randy have watched baseball and other sports (kids are putting me to sleep here…); 
Bradford, Will and Sidney have opted out of tv for music (dance party anyone?) and Jade, Jinelle, Taylor and Sabrina turned on their TV and watched the “continuous circuit of movie previews that was on when we turned the TV on….” (sigh)

Chaperones were in bed early (just after 11, I think) and kids were smart enough to talk quietly so we couldn’t hear them through their doors (they’re so savvy!).  
Saskatchewan for Day 9 AND getting to see my sweet little hometown and the best spot of land in the world – my family farm. Kids are super-lucky because I’m gonna regale them with hours of stories of my childhood. Who else gets these kind of chances in life, I ask you?