No - I didn't make up that word
In fact, there just happens to be a definition of "staycation" in Wikipedia:
A staycation (or stay-cation, or stacation,or staykation) is a neologism for a period of time in which an individual or family stays at home and relaxes at home or takes day trips from their home to area attractions. Staycations have achieved high popularity in the financial crisis of 2007–2009 in which unemployment levels and gas prices are high. The term was added to the 2009 version of the Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary.
After our mission we were anxious to have a family vacation. However, as we started planning we quickly realized there aren't many places suitable and affordable for a family of 11 adults and 15 kids - including 5 baby boys! Plus it was so nice to be back in our home - we kind of hated to leave. So we organized a staycation and it was fun! We ended up with only a long weekend all together - but i think that was a good amount of time for our first try.
Here is the story of our first 'staycation'
First - I wanted a theme that would be memorable, fun, but also uplifting. We chose the Tree of Life from Lehi's dream in 1 Nephi 8 of the Book of Mormon. That wonderful symbolic story is full of teachings about happy family life.
A little shopping
After deciding on the theme, I started finding little things that would make the staycation memorable.
Like this tree wall sticker tree I found at Ikea - for 99 cents!
It really is just stickers
And a few things from Oriental Trading company
Tropical prizes and 'bribes' to keep things focused during family pictures and devotionals
"Keep your feet on the path" flip flop "medallions" for game winners (everyone was a winner)
And I happened upon these perfect "tree of life" leaf plates on sale at Pier One (only a couple of dollars each)
I started by making and sharing this google document with a schedule of meal and activity assignments. I felt wonderfully organized - but found out later that busy families don't always take time to read long google documents sent to them via email. Looking back now, I realize it was great to have a set plan, but flexibility is key to low stress fun. I think we changed about half the assignments and that worked out just fine.
Feeding 24 people for 3 days.....what to do?
I assigned out breakfasts, planned take out for most of the dinners (ended up changing that) and had plenty of sandwich supplies on hand for fix your own lunches. That worked out pretty well.
The first morning, Reid made his famous sourdough blueberry pancakes
"It's a buffet!" they said
One morning we had "French" breakfast of cocoa, baguettes, berries and pain au chocolate - a family favorite.
It was kid approved
CPK helped us out with one of our dinners
Instead of ordering out, one night we recreated "The Counter" - a fun hamburger restaurant with amazing gourmet toppings. The older kids became the waiters - taking orders and serving the burgers (and getting a few nice tips).
Sunday Jen and Jason made their famous, yummy, creamy mac and cheese
Favorite dessert? S'mores of course
We tried to keep things simple and kid friendly
Who needs tables and chairs?
Of course, there's a never ending demand for food so I kept plenty of drinks and snacks on hand - good old Costco was the perfect source.
Friday was boat and beach day. We rented a boat and headed to Deer Creek Reservoir.
It certainly wasn't the Caribbean!
But the kids didn't care
They had fun throwing rocks and creating mud
Jack even had a little "fishing" incident
What's that in his mouth?
A closer look
We "fished" out the head - and here is Jack's catch. (Jamie called it fish jerky)
Kids (and dads) loved boating
Saturday we had a fun at home day with games, crafts, competitions and plenty of water.
I found this waterslide on sale at Walmart early in the summer and we have used it over and over again
It was a little chilly but hot tubs are great for warming up
puzzle competitions (older kids had to hold hands - and could only use their free hands)
and lots more - a tennis ladder, ping pong, movie making, crafts and plenty of free "chill out and chat" times
Plus performances by guest entertainer - Jack
on the steel pan
and in gymnastics
Only the "out of towners' (2 families, 10 kids) slept over - but that was plenty! We had two free bedrooms for couples, plus a few quiet corners to tuck pack 'n plays for babies. The older kids all slept in one big room that came to be known as the "orphanage" (from "Annie"?). They loved it! Each night we had wall to wall mats, sofas and blow-up mattresses - and scary fun bedtime stories from Grandpa!
Each day we had a scripture study devotional. It was NOT easy to gather such a large group of varied ages - but it was DEFINITELY worth it.
The first night we discussed Lehi's dream. Each family picked one of the four groups Lehi saw and listed what they did, step by step
Then we shared, compared and found some interesting connections (I'll do a post on some of the things we learned, later)
We followed up during the staycation with Tree of Life art projects
Older kids did paintings
And the little ones created with stickers
Some of them even became the tree
Each day we had a different devotional and we finished on Sunday morning with a review of all we learned.
It was a wonderful few days.
The bottom line - STAYCATIONS ARE GREAT!
Because they bring brothers and sisters and cousins and in-laws and parents and grandparents together