Tuesday, August 14, 2012

FVC: Happy Ever After

Hang loose Mother Goose..."Fables and Fairytales" was the theme this year at the Family Vacation Centre near Santa Barbara. And there was a happily every after for us...in the family photo session. Minutes before, the kids were digging through their dirty washing - as usual! Amid cussing and swearing from me - as usual! -  didn't I tell them to pack a pair of jeans and white shirt? But somehow Peter, the magical photographer made us look Loving Family-ish. Dreams Do Come True dot dot dot.

Photoshoot including CD: $75. Being Family-ish: Priceless.  Photo: Peter Vandenbelt

Me and Harley, nearly 15. Photo: Peter Vandenbelt

The family camp is at the University of California, Santa Barbara; you stay in student dorms and eat at the cafeteria and the student counsellors take care of the kids while adults go golfing, cycling, shopping, surfing, wine tasting or just act like students again.

Harley and I viewing student digs round the corner...old bikes and last night's beer: " Stay in school son and one day all this this could be yours."
Santa Barbara Museum of Art
Harley on ropes course Photo: Peter Vandenbelt

Santa Barbara County Courthouse

Jackson, 13, and me on Leadbetter Beach

Tallulah (blue glasses) and camp friends. Photo: Peter Vandenbelt

Santa Barbara Marina

At Brophy Bros

Oil painting with Chris Potter

Casa del Herrero

Tallulah in our student dorms
Food: The student cafeteria is a veritable cornucopia of the fresh and the good. But we watched Tallulah, 11, and Cy, 8, head straight for the burger and fries - by-passing the salad bar, Asian stir fry section, roast pork with three veg and organic fruit. Did I see Cy add ice-cream to his Coke for breakfast? Did Tallulah really dip her pizza in Ranch dressing? A vision surely...

Tots to Teens: This is one of the few "all-inclusive"vacations in the US where the kids' programme takes one-month-old infants to 18 year-olds. Catering for teens is tricky and the new director Sheri Fruhwirth, formerly of Disney Cruises, wants to do everything she can to keep the teens coming back. Rope courses, rock climbing, surfing and sleeping under the stars seemed to do the trick for our 15 year-old boys but it was the counsellors who made it all so fun. For the first time our boys entered the family swim race and made wooden race cars for the "Pinewood Derby"

Harley and his friend Nate Photo: Peter Vandenbelt

The final morning Cy threw up, wept, and fell fast to sleep on the bathroom floor. Harley, nearly 15, mused how cool would it be to have a scripture tattoo on his rib cage. Too much enjoyment of life in the land far, far away. Time to return home to reality.

High Fives:
What to see outside the FVC...
1. Brophy Bros: Best fish and chips (or "fush and chups" as we Kiwis would say) and beer-boiled shrimps on the coast. At least a half-hour wait, but worth it for a view of the yachts and local Old Salts mixing with star-lettoes from West Hollywood.
2. Lotusland: I'm fascinated by crazy rich broads and Ganna Walska, a second-rate Polish opera singer who married five times was a doozer. She spent 43 years creating this 37-acre wonderland of cacti, succulents and natives surrounding an enormous conch-adorned pool where she swam naked (of course!) at midnight.
3. Kitson: Bizarre mix of goodies including Chloe cardigans, compilation music CD by Perez Hilton, cute baby T's and "Naughty Girl" dot-to-dot books.
4. Santa Barbara Museum of Art: cutting-edge modern art will shake the sand from your hair.
5. Santa Barbara County Courthouse: white and orange-tiled intrigue that makes you want to live your whole life surrounded by Spanish Colonial.

(Today, my post on cycling in the Pyrenees is featured on BritMums, in a travel round-up by the award-winning blogger, Trish of Mum's Gone To.... Thank you Trish!)







38 comments:

  1. OMG your children are so tall and gorgeous! I know what it's like to be outgrown having been the smallest in the family for quite a while now and I think your time will come! It looks like a wonderful holiday...a bit like our Centre Parcs only with good weather!

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    1. They sprouted just this year! We did the Centre Parcs when we lived in London, it was perfect in every way...except for the weather, dark drizzle all day long...

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  2. Very cool. I haven't ever heard of a family vacation camp. It sounds like you had a great time. I think that on vacation, ice cream floats for breakfast are perfectly acceptable:)

    *Erin

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  3. You have such an attractive family! Whenever I go back to my parents house I see the family photos and cringe, it was always me that wore the unmatched clothes or pulled a silly face. I just clicked on Kitson, color my boobs, awesome.

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  4. I suppose you have to have kids to go there? wish I'd known about it years ago..........and my sister got married at the court house.........

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  5. Lovely family photo! It looks like you are having loads of fun.

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  6. It sounds lovely, but a wee bit different from sharing a beachouse(hut) on the North Sea near Aberdeen, or even a bach at Haumoana.

    Glad you all enjoyed yourselves.

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  7. What a beautiful family photo!

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  8. You've got a lovely looking family. Four kids, and you're in great shape! If I had kids that's the kind of vacation that would appeal to me. Lots to do and see and lots of great food and cocktails - perfect.

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  9. hahahaha--- I love how you knew the trip how wound down: with vomit and an imagined tattoo!

    I really love that you take this family trip. Its so good to share in an experience as a family!

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  10. You've got me thinking - I remember when I was a child our family and my cousins all went to Lancaster University for a week in the summer holidays and stayed in student accommodation. It was great as we all had separate rooms but a shared kitchen. Unfortunately no planned activities and probably not as good weather!

    Happy to have linked to your Pyrenees trip x

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  11. Oh wow sounds fab and the pictures look great too!

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  12. Soudns fab and the pictures look great too!

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  13. Pollocks! Sorry about the double trouble teh computer was playing up...still its does look great!

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    1. is Pollocks the posh bollocks? Must start using that!

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  14. i have totally noted this for when the girls are older!!! you make it sound perfect!

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  15. What a wonderful place...looks like loads to do too :)) Your family photos are beautiful..gorgeous kids you have :) x

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  16. love all the photos, what a beautiful family!

    love jenny xoxo

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  17. What a fab family shot - great lighting and you look like a sister amongst that lot ;)

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    1. Hi Nicole thanks for stopping by. I love your review today of The Odd lIfe of Timothy Green

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  18. i love this idea for a vacation! and your family photo is gorgeous!!

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  19. Gorgeous family photo - so relaxed and natural! I think i need to get on board with this fun family camp!!

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  20. I love your family photo and $75.00 is cheap!! It sounds like a great time with lots of fun memories.
    Love Di ♥

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  21. Jody, Love your family picture. What a deal. This whole trip sounds so fun and perfect for everyone. I love Santa Barbara! Thanks for all the good tips too.
    xo
    Kim

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  22. Great photos and such a scenic spot! We spent so much time in Santa Barbara prior to moving to Seattle. Those bikes are so fun... we used to ride along the boardwalk.

    Beautiful family Jody and looks like you had a wonderful vacation :)

    leslie

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  23. What a great summer holiday!!! Love all the pictures!! Do you surf?? How nice!!

    xoxoxo

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  24. Gosh, your kids are good looking. Love the wholesome family shot :P Knowing what it's like, it would probably take quite a bit of shouting and shoving around to get that point! I was talking to a friend yesterday....well...moaning really, about how it can be difficult to please the kids when we're on holiday. Something like this would keep both the parents and kids happy.

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  25. What a great holiday. It really is. Great family shot.

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  26. Gorgeous photo of you with your family! Sounds like everyone had a great get-away. :)

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  27. The family vacation camp sounds great, Jody. And what a beautiful family photo! Congrats on the feature!
    Ada

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  28. I really do want to move to CA and live right next door to you. You always seem to have so much fun wherever you and whatever you do.

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  29. Thanks so much for this post - we've been looking for a place to have a family trip that would work for all of the kids, ages 2 - 15. Think the UCSB camp could be the place next summer!
    I love SB and Brophy's is one of my favorite stops - getting hungry now just thinking about it!
    L

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  30. i remember this trip from last year!

    if others only knew what occurs behind closed doors just moments before the oh-so-loving photo is snapped.

    well, it appears that others do know, since we all (moms) experience the exact same battles.

    you did look very family-ish and callllm... mission accomplished :).

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    1. Welcome back from vacay Torrie, can't wait to see your piccies, we're headed up that way for a couple of days next week.

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  31. Love the photos! Do you ever look bad? The family photo shoot - it just reminds me of the episode in Modern Family when they all decide to do a family photo shoot all wearing white!

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    1. Sue - I usually look bad, I always pick the one good pic out of 20. Yes Modern Family that's what made me think of the all-white, but the piles of dirty washing didn't really do the job...

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  32. And your kids are gorgeous - all so tall! You must be really proud and they of you!

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