The end is in sight. Which is a pity, because now some of us are left with not a lot to do, in order to keep the house tidy. Next time we go, I'm contemplating sending the kids out to a hotel until it's time to leave. This morning I actually found myself suggesting that they watch television instead of painting pictures.
Herewith a few necessary items from our bags:
Bug spray and sunscreen, because while available down south, everything costs two to four times as much, as in $20 U.S. for the two-liter container of Breyer's ice cream. Just about had me leap across the cash register and kiss the startled cashier on the cheek when we returned from our seven-month stay. Not to mention a generous supply of antifungal cream for the entire family (living in the tropics isn't all sunshine and bougainvillea) as well as butterfly bandages. On the kids' first trip, Daniel swung a kid-size metal golf club too close to his two-year-old brother, which is why Davy now has a dashing scar -- fairly faint to those who don't know and love him well -- on the bridge of his tiny nose. Tom and I weighed the pros and cons of having the local doctor stitch him up, and decided that he might end up with a bigger scar from a crummy sewing job, not to mention the even more real possibility of infected stitches (remember that fungus business?), then tried to locate some butterfly closures at the local pharmacies. Nada, not even at the well-stocked gift shop at the chi-chi American golfing resort. In the end Tom ended up cutting some out of regular Bandaids, but given the tendency toward liveliness and accidents in our household, better to travel with the real thing.
Bathing suits. I take back everything I've ever said about Sears's nasty habit about publishing the Wish Book in September and the fall/winter catalogue in April. I had thoughts of suggesting naturism to Laura upon discovering over the holidays that none of her summer bathing suits fit any more -- one had lost its elastic and the other two, thanks to a big fall growth spurt, were downright cheeky. And just where is one supposed to buy bathing suits in rural smalltown Alberta in January? Saved by the lovely woman at Sears, who told me that though none of my choices from last summer's catalogue were still available, I could order sight unseen from the new catalogue, only just back from the printer that very day. Wowee -- now that's customer service! She described a couple of suits to me in my price range (that would be "cheap and serviceable"), I ordered two of each in two different sizes, just to be sure (of course Sears has an easy and cheerful return policy). Laura is now the proud owner of two handsome and well-fitting swimsuits.
Our new readalouds (some are repeats for those who were too young the first time around to remember much): Owls in the Family by Farley Mowat, Gentle Ben by Walt Morey; Eagle Mask by James Houston; Davy's island must-have, the Ladybird Classic edition of Treasure Island; and two of our old stand-bys, Grimm's Fairy Tales (our older edition is illustrated by the wonderful Leonard Weisgard) and Canadian Wonder Tales. No, this list isn't final, subject to substitutions, suggestion, and the battling fears of 1) we're taking along too many heavy books and b) what if we run out of books so far from home.
Presents for our friends: Canadian books (especially multiple copies of Wild Alberta: A Visual Celebration by Wayne Lynch) and music (Sarah Harmer, Bedouin Soundclash, the latter of whom are very popular with our West Indian-East Indian friends from Guyana); Crayola Twistables colored pencils; the Klutz Solar Car Book kit (batteries, like everything else, are hideously expensive down there); Sudoku puzzle books from the supermarket; and little Clikits kits for Laura's friends.
And the various goodies and treats that some of us pine for but are allowed only on airplanes: chewing gum (I don't care what the dentist tells me about the benefits of Mal...) and those keep-fresh(?)-forever packages of crackers and cheeselike substance. And Davy's bright idea -- those mini boxes of cereal, especially those types that don't usually find their way into our cupboards -- Fruit Loops, Corn Pops, and Frosted Flakes. Ahh, vacation...