Family life

Travel journal: Phoenix adventure with my kid

Tracy Chappell and her daughter check out the Valley of the Sun.

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Anna enjoys the perks of a resort in Phoenix. Photo: Tracy Chappell

Follow along as Today’s Parent senior editor Tracy Chappell shares her refreshingly positive take on parenting her two young daughters. She’s been blogging her relatable experiences for our publication since 2005.

Anna and I were lucky enough to be asked to check out a couple of family-friendly resorts in Phoenix, Arizona, this week. Well, we were actually supposed to come in the fall, but with my sister’s wedding in November, and Christmas pouncing right on its heels, I asked if we could move the trip to January. Smart move. Not only did it add something fun to look forward to during the January doldrums, but it’s the perfect escape from the polar vortex (they’ve even heard of it here, though can’t quite fathom cold that makes your nose hairs freeze instantly if you step outside.)

It is only 7:30 p.m. (Mountain Time), and Anna is already fast asleep, her poor body completely worn out by the two-hour time difference and the hours spent in the Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort’s labyrinth of pools, waterfalls, lazy river and water slide. She was a little concerned this morning, when we had to dart back to our room for our jackets, that it wouldn’t warm up enough to indulge in her Pisces water love, but the cool morning unthawed into a gorgeously sunny, not-a-cloud-in-the-sky afternoon for water play.

Read more: 50 essential winter activities >

We arrived yesterday after a thankfully problem-free departure from Pearson airport in Toronto (that vortex and all its travel implications had me worried). Anna was shockingly content on the four-hour flight — not thanks to all of the books and notepads and games I packed, but to the TV on the back of the seat. No matter. That’s a long flight to try to keep a busy girl like Anna entertained, and her blissful TV watching gave me a chance to dive into my book (Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn — loving it!).

We met our trip coordinator, Trish, at a very cool restaurant in downtown Phoenix called Windsor, which has an amazing tape wall — I don’t mean duct tape, but cassette tapes! A whole wall of them. My heart clenched with nostalgia and I made Anna pose with them, ignoring her “what are these?” questions. Tapes. Remember tapes? I loved tapes. It took me a long time to give them up for CDs (which may have sounded better, but were ruined by the slightest scratch!). They even had a Memorex blank tape on the wall, bringing me back to the hours and hours I spent making mixed tapes. OK, got a little off-topic here.

Next door to Windsor is the hip ice cream and sweets store Churn, which actually sells Big League Chew. I didn’t buy any, but did enjoy some delicious peanut butter ice cream. With a scoop of chocolate, of course.

Since then, we’ve been enjoying this lovely resort, spending some time this afternoon with Chef Ken, who showed us the organic garden he’s created to make some delicious meals at the resort’s restaurant. Chef Ken runs interactive food programs for adults and kids alike; he and Anna dug around in the garden, pulling out green beans and carrots that Anna munched on for lunch.

Read more: 7 so-delicious-you-can’t-tell-their-healthy meals >

The resort has different types of rooms and we’re housed in a “casita,” which is sort of like a townhouse. Anna now calls it home. In fact, we’re packing up tomorrow for a trip to a nearby ghost town, then heading to a new resort for a couple of nights, but Anna has decided she’s going to stay put. “Maybe Daddy and Avery could just come and visit us here,” she suggests. It’s a nice idea. I can’t say I’m looking forward to returning to the cold.

I’ll tell you more about our ghost town adventures, and our new resort, next time. But I’d better get myself to bed shortly too. It’s nice to have a couple of hours of quiet time with Anna crashing out so early, but of course, she sprung out of bed at 5 a.m. this morning. By the time that is all sorted out, we’ll be home again and begging her to hit the sack.

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