Alaska or Aloha Bound – Part 3 – The Kid Influence

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Before I plan any vacation, I ask my kids what they want to do.  And then I book my trip to Disney.

Actually, when offered Alaska or Hawaii as a possible vacation for next year, the girls were pretty split.  They had things they wanted to do in Alaska that we didn’t have time to do on our last cruise, but the thought of two weeks on a beach was very appealing.  They were no help in trying to decide.

But here’s where a kid’s input on the Alaska or Hawaii vacation plans hit hard.  Brighid, at this point in her life, doesn’t have any idea what next summer will be like for her.  Degree in hand, she is hoping to have a full time job, but when she might actually get one is anyone’s guess.  Will she have accumulated any vacation time by next summer?  Does she want to use her vacation from work for a family trip, or is it time for her to want to vacation on her own or with friends – especially when that vacation time is more limited?

So when asked whether she preferred Alaska or Hawaii, Brighid’s answer was, “Don’t plan on me to be able to go – I’m just not sure.”

So here’s where Hawaii has a definite advantage.

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If we book a cruise to Alaska, we won’t book Brighid.  We may find out closer to the trip that she can at least fly out to Vancouver and get on the cruise, if not the whole family vacation, but when we find that out for sure, will it be too late to book her on the trip?  What will the cabin availability be?

Hawaii offers some flexibility.  If we end up being able to book for two weeks, which is our goal, Brighid might be able to join us for at least part of the vacation.  Even if she doesn’t have a whole lot of vacation time accumulated, she might be able to put a long weekend together and join us for at least a little while.  You can’t do that with a cruise.

I hope my girls always want to do family vacations, but I’m a realist.  That weighs pretty heavily on making the Alaska or Aloha decision for next summer.

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Care Packages for your College Kid

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You’ve just brought your college student to school either for the first time or as a return student.  The tears have finally dried on Mom’s face, as she leaves her baby behind; and the tears are nearly dried on Dad’s face, as the sting of the tuition bill becomes a fading memory. 

Especially if your child is away for the first time, they’re going to want to know that they’re loved, thought about and missed. Plus, they’re going to be hungry and homesick at least part of the time.  Care packages are a great way to remedy both of those things!

When our oldest daughter, Brighid, went to college for the first time, we tried to send monthly packages.  As soon as we dropped her off, we went home and put together a package of things we thought she’d miss from home.  We’re just outside of Philadelphia, so Brighid’s package included things like Tastykakes, Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews, some Termini’s bakery Italian cookies, and a fuzzy warm Flyers sweatshirt. You can send your child a bedtime kiss – a care package containing a pair of comfy pajamas, the latest on the best seller list, and a box of hot chocolate.  If your child loves your homemade cookies (my kids don’t have a mom that bakes or cooks, so my kids will never miss home cooked stuff!), bake a batch and send them. 

Holidays were great opportunities for care packages.  For each holiday my daughter was away from home, we filled a box with holiday themed paper plates, napkins, cups, and a few decorations for her room.  We’d throw in holiday boxed cake mixes and frosting, holiday themed candies or snacks, and a holiday coffee mug or candy dish.  It not only helped her get a taste of home, but it allowed her to invite friends over to celebrate with her.  Don’t forget to include a gift card for Domino’s to complete the party!

Seasonal care packages were always welcome. When the summer breezes finally give way to a fall chill, pack a box with some Ginger Snap cookies and a selection of tea bags.  Winter can be a great time to send your college student some new gloves, a hat, and a scarf – maybe in school colors.  When the spring thaw comes, send a bouquet of beautiful spring flowers.

Care packages are a great place to put gift cards your college kid might need.  WalMart gift cards allow them to pick up toiletries, some groceries, or cleaning supplies (stop laughing).  Also appreciated are gift cards for special treats – Starbucks, Applebee’s (or other chain restaurants), or the movie theater.  Oh, and don’t forget those cram for exam care packages – fill those with coffee, chocolate, snacks, and maybe some energy drinks!

We found that care packages eased the pain of separation anxiety – for both us and our college kid.  It makes Mom and Dad feel like they’re still needed, and it makes your college kid feel like they are still part of the family (even though their younger sisters have redecorated their room in Sponge Bob posters and claimed it as their own).  It’s like getting a big hug from home.  And who doesn’t  need a big hug now and then?

Our New Bundle of Joy (?)

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Some days, I do believe I have taken leave of my senses.  But with Granuaile finishing kindergarten; Eilis quickly approaching middle school; and Brighid finding her own way in the world, I did what most sensible Moms do.  I asked for a puppy.

We found out four years ago that Granuaile had dog allergies.  She broke out in horrible eczema; got itchy, watery eyes; and sneezed.  It required us to get rid of a lot of things in the house before finally turning an accusing eye to our Irish Wolfhound, Roisin Dubh (Rosie).  Granuaile’s allergies diminished as soon as we found a new home for Rosie, so the possibility of having a dog in the house seemed remote.

Until we met the Havanese.  We tested a variety of dog breeds, and the Havanese is the one that Granuaile had absolutely no reaction to.  And they’re darn cute.

So, meet our puppy – an 8 week old Chocolate Havanese named Harper Vee Marti Skamarakas.