We found that picking one "weird" thing that they can't do at home works well. We have a hand-crank ice cream maker; one of our best visits was going blueberry picking in the morning and making ice cream in the afternoon/evening. The cool thing (besides the edibles!) was that the boys had never been berry picking before (urban-raised) AND neither had ever heard of hand-cranked ice cream.
At other times, we've taken them to see stuff they can't see elsewhere. There wouldn't be a great cliff system near you, would there? Would the escarpment be a unique experience?
With only 30 hours, electronic babysitting needn't be an option. FWIW, I think board games are great if the kids are used to playing them in general (new ones okay) but are hit-or-miss if that's not a family tradition.
Thanks - good stuff! We've thought about taking them to pick apples and I'm sure we could find a more impressive hike than the ones in our back yard. Hmm, Devil's Pulpit is a very cool cliff climb (up stairs) and there is ice cream nearby.
Maybe we could take them to a movie and eat popcorn together. It may be against the rules but I think that's what aunts and uncles are for.
My daughter (aunt to four nephews, but two with the exact ages of your guests) claims that her "mission in life" is to be the "favorite aunt" and anything goes in that quest - whether the parents of the nephews like it or not!
(Do you have access to a cider press? Making cider is way cool! Theresa and I did that at one of our first "dates" with Nick (my stepson) and he still talks about it nearly thirty years later!)
Canoes, or is the nearest water too far away? I would think that canoeing to any place where it is possible to land on an island and do some picking of blueberries or blackberries would be fun (if berries are at a pickable stage in your vicinity).
Thanks Eldersmith, but these kids live 100M from Great Slave Lake, and canoe all the time. Something like hiking and apple picking should be new and fun for them.
Or a jail cell room if they get rowdy. Maybe the dog crate?
Drive in movie with an allowance to spend at the concession as they please. Old stuff in a new context and a dash of freedom. Bring sleeping bags, pillows and wear pjs. Flip up the lid on the van and watch it en repose.
go to Hamilton and show them an Australian. Or the Toronto zoo. It has a water park but check to see that it's still open. There is a Baby boom at the zoo but long lineups for pandas. Has a Tim Hortons now too.
Centre island is good up to that age but not much beyond. Lots of rides of appropriate scale. And had a beach and bikes. And a boat trip. Way less stress and sleaze than the ex and access to the city attractions if that's not enough on its own.
I could go on.
I like the idea of a drive-in! I wonder if there is one nearby.
Thanks, all - these suggestions are helpful in understanding the 8- and 10-year-old sense of fun!
Centre Island by ferry is definitely fun and urban, but if they spend time on a big lake already it may not be that novel. The beach there is nice too.
Hiking to a high point might be cool - where you can see a long way from the escarpment, to say the CN tower. The zoo is always cool, and the aquarium downtown.
Unless it's raining all day I wouldn't recommend board games for that age until they're knackered from physical activity. Is Bent working while you have them or are they coming afterward?
Do they get to swim much? If they like to, the swimming "pond" at Earl Rowe Prov. Park outside Alliston is actually kind of fun. It's about an acre of water, in a big round pool, that never gets deeper than 4 feet. It's kind of like going to a beach - but no sand.. Take a ball or water toys.
For that matter Albion has a shallow pool with a splash pad too.
Not sure apples are ready for picking officially yet, and there are no berries in these parts right now.
They'd probably love to do an orienteering course you set up - just call it a scavenger hunt :)
Based on where they are from I second the Drive-in and Ripley's Aquarium for things they'd enjoy.
What kid wouldn't remember this trip with their favourite Aunt & Uncle!! (Not sure of the 'rules')
'Bent took them to the aquarium on their last visit to Toronto two years ago. They loved it! Between 'Bent and his sister, the kids have also been to the CN Tower, the ROM, the Zoo, Medieval Times... They think Ontario is non-stop excitement!
They'll spend most of their vacation at 'Bent's Mom's place in Toronto with their parents. We expect to hang out with them again and that's when we could do one of the Toronto-type activities. This week we have to find entertainment close to Caledon because of the dogs.
Albion Orchards has Paula Red apples available for picking now but I just noticed on their website that they only offer pick-your-own on weekends. Arggh! That was such a good plan.
Swimming could be fun. They're both good swimmers, and Great Slave Lake is not warm so I think they mostly swim in pools.
Note to self: Must google drive-in...
I will only have the kids on my own for about 4 hours. 'Bent will be around otherwise. We are both unskilled at childcare, however, so two babysitters are not necessarily better than one!
Hmm, an orienteering course... Maybe Spirit Tree Cidery?
Every kid I've known loves a drive-in, though there aren't many left. The one near me between Holland Landing and Sharon on Mt Albert Rd sold a few years ago for development, BUT is open again until the property sites are worth a bit more. Since audio is by radio, if you take a portable some can watch one movie from the front of the van and others watch a different movie out the back. Bug repellent might be a good idea.
We just took our kids (ages 3-5) to Centreville, it was great but I actually think Sara will outgrow it within the next few years so I wouldn't bring kids older than 7 and expect them to be excited about any rides.
I would imagine Wonderland is a staple for every visiting kid to the GTA? If not it should be. Growing up several hours away as a kid it was always memorable. Even Sara last year (age 4) loved it - Ghoster Coaster FTW.
Downey's Farm (Heart Lake and King Road) has a corn maze, jumpy castles, giant sandbox, wooden play train, and mini put, apple picking, etc.www.downeysfarm.com
Great idea! I'd wondered about it.
Downey's looks like good close fun.
Wonderland is great fun at that age but does get pricey very quickly.
I'll check what Downey's Farm does on a Friday. We're late making plans since this was billed as a "sleepover".
Is there a prize for the person whose idea actually gets used? Yes, everything is a competition. And I'm totally winning.
Treasure hunt using the Bashed house map and/or Palgrave West map
Jolley rancher donuts at the CNE or other terrible foods
Go carts, horseback riding, disc golf?
The is a drive-in near Barrie.
If you feel adventurous and brave, let them make their own tiny fires in your backyard - Amik loves it! (if they're allowed to play with matches, that is:)
Hope you will have fun!
The drive-in was my leading candidate for tonight until I learned that the bedtime process starts around 8:00-8:30 with kids to be asleep by 9 p.m. The nearest drive-in movie starts at 8:35 and is 40 minutes away. Also, they didn't bring PJs. So maybe next time when they're a little older.
So far, hiking has been a big hit although I think the excitement of being near a forest will wear off soon. Now that I've finally run out of pre-dinner ideas, Sponge Bob Squarepants has saved the day. That didn't take long!
This is soooo tiring and it's only been 4 hours. How do parents do it?! I need more endurance.
Sponge Bob may see great now but within 20 minutes his laugh will make you want to put a hammer through the TV.
Crack a beer and ignore 'em for a bit. Works every time.
Sleepover vacation bedtime? Those things don't go together.
There's a bedtime rule - but no PJs??!! That seems weird.
If there are no PJs doesn't that mean there is no bed? You could stay up all night with them. That sounds fun - for a woman who is counting hours.
I'm not counting hours; I'm counting beers. (No, not really. So far I've split one Radler with 'Bent. It was really good.)
There are no PJs because this 2-week trip to Grandma's in Toronto is the first stop of a full year of international travel and home schooling. Apparently, when you pack light for different climates, it's easiest to just sleep in T-shirts and undies.
Sponge Bob lives in a pineapple in a city called "Bikini Bottom"?! How are we supposed to take him seriously? ;)
'Bent's ideas for entertaining the kids sounded totally lame but so far he's batting 1,000:
1) Let them help with dinner preparation.
2) Read aloud from 'Bent's diary written during his family's year of international travel when 'Bent was 12 and his brother (the kids' Dad) was 3. There are a few photos stuck in the diary, which makes it more fun.
In between, there's been a liberal sprinkling of pretending we know how to be parents: "Eat your vegetables if you want dessert" and "Please stop diving head first off the back of the couch onto my laptop while it's upgrading its operating system".
But it's incredibly easy compared to when they were 6 and 4, the last time I was part of the overnight babysitting team. That time, 'Bent and I tag teamed for 2 hours without getting either child to stay in bed. We admitted defeat and called in the expert - 'Bent's Mom - who raised 3 children. She had our nephew asleep in 4 minutes and our niece a little later.
We had a lot of fun preparing all sorts of weird vegetables for grilling, and surprisingly the grilled radishes, golden beets and yello zucchini were pretty good hits. T-girl did serious damage, and Leo even sampled some but preferred his salmon burger. We had FB potatoes too, and garden cherry tomatoes and cukes were gobbled up. BBQed peaches for dessert were a huge hit.
Let's be honest... one of the kids ate lots of veggies and the other ate lots of salmon burger. Regardless, it was a win.
Getting any veggies into Leo is a win. So is getting them to cuddle up with the dogs they were scared of.
I'm starting to understand that a certain Aunt and Uncle are having as much or more fun than the kids!! ;-)
'Bent was only able to stay awake 45 minutes longer than the kids.
Btw Super, looks like Escondido is the winner unless it rains tomorrow. Downey's Farm offers all their activities on Fridays - mini-putt golf, wagon rides, petting zoo, giant sandbox etc. - the same kind of stuff most of you have been suggesting. Sounds like a rockin' good time close to home, then we'll pack up the pooches and take everyone for dinner at Grandma's in Toronto.
Uh oh, we may be looking for more advice in future. This text just in from 'Bent's brother:
"We left for Thailand at 4 p.m. They're yours. Suckas!!"
Ooh, that's a good, I'm saving that.
Also, just saw that King Harald is in Toronto
, you could play "spot the King of Norway!"
I guess so! Unlike most people I haven't actually bumped into any members of the royal family while out and about, only the Prime Minister.
People keep bumping into our Prime Minister too. Did you also get a shirtless photo of your leader? ;)
It is too bad you didn't give us more notice. I'd have happily dropped my kids off beforehand for you to practice on. ;)
Thanks for all the great ideas. As suggested here, we didn't bore them with board games. They liked hiking, reading and playing with dogs but our afternoon excursion to Downey's Farm really helped to use up more energy. Things went well and they are safely back with their parents, ready to visit other aunts and uncles.
Boy, you sure have to be "on" all the time with kids around. I had one massive adulting fail when we were driving. An oncoming car pulled into our lane to pass and cut it way too close.
Kids: "What did you say?"
Me: "I said DUCK! That car was coming at us so we all needed to DUCK!"
They're young. They bought it.
Photos posted on Friday's log since there was no training to record. (How is it possible that parents train?)
For the record, they didn't buy it. Rather they recognized it for its cleverness and have filed it away for use when they say that and their parents ask!
We know a couple who are both geologists, and have two small girls, and have the same problem of the girls repeating things they say, loud and emphatically. "DAMMIT! DAMMIT!" etc. So they were resolving to replace all swear words with geological terms so the girls would say that instead, e.g. "NAVAJO SANDSTONE!" Stina and I thought it was so funny that we both use "Navajo sandstone" as a swearword occasionally.
It is really tough - we have two nephews who are 8 and 6, and I have to constantly police myself not to say inappropriate things. And my solution to keeping them occupied is to buy them legos and DVDs. I got put in charge of taking them to the pool for an afternoon on this last vacation. Just spending a few hours with them is completely exhausting!
Parenting isn't for wimps ... a true statement! Sounds like you managed fine. I admit that I do not have a ban on electronics and it's a major reason I am sane. Between the tv, the iPhone, the iPad, and the Xbox, the kids usually are happily doing something that doesn't involve me. Thank goodness.
Also I totally take advantage of my daughter's aftercare. I *could* pick her up right after work ... or, I could go for a run. I usually choose the latter. More fun for everyone!
navajo sandstone! love it though schist would be better
So what would be a good set of AR related codename swear words?
Schist is perfect. AR epithets might include: "Oh, Hike-a-bike!" or "Portage Off!"
I can see why our teammate Hingo used to say that overnight adventure racing was the most relaxing part of his life. :)
I like "Navajo sandstone!" and may try to start using "bituminous coal!" soon.
I'm having trouble coming up with good orienteering ones; I think the AR possibilities are greater. ("unmapped clearcut!" doesn't have the same ring as "hike-a-bike")
Cristina and Bash,
My Kong Harald story...
Many years ago when the present King was only a crown prince, my friend Turid was skiing in Oslo. She looked up and saw Kong Olav skiing towards her. Greatly excited she exclaimed (paa Norse) to the next skier, "hurry up, the King is right in front of you". The crown prince smiled back.
Bituminous coal is awesome but here in Canada we could just use "What a Bitumin" or "Bitumin. Crude"
Geology terms are so much better: orogeny, thrust fault, cross-bedding
There was a team named "Portage-a-trois" which was quite smart.
Aim off buddy!
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