Monday, August 22, 2011

This morning, I hugged my baby and watched her go off to kindergarten.

As she begins this new adventure at a new school, I hope so many things for her.
  • I hope that we have prepared her well for the challenge, both academically and socially.  I am thankful for all the help we have received, from grandparents, from the preschool that nurtured her and taught her so well, from friends and community and books.  Although I can't help but worry that I haven't done enough or haven't done the right things, I hope that she will flourish anyway.
  • I hope that we have chosen the right environment for her, where she will be encouraged and nurtured, but challenged to be her best, where she will feel comfortable and secure, but where she will be go beyond her comfort zone to prove to herself what she can do.
  • I hope that she develops a healthy attitude about school and learning, embracing things that don't come easily and committing to master skills that require practice and diligence.
  • I hope that she lets her enthusiasm for life and her curious spirit guide her, and that she shares those with others, to inspire them as she inspires me.
  • I hope that she allows her teachers and classmates to see and know the real person I love and treasure so much.  And I hope that she gives her teachers and classmates a chance to show their true selves to her, so that she may grow to love and treasure them as friends.
  • I hope that she will have confidence and be sure of herself.  In moments when she doubts, I hope that she will quickly remember how special she is, and that the things that make her unique are the things that make her the very special person she is.
  • I hope that she will respect others and be kind and sensitive to their feelings.
  • I hope that she will be assertive and stand up for herself.  And I hope that she will stand up for others who need help.
  • I hope that she will use her manners and remember to say please, thank you, and sorry. 
  • I hope that she will forgive others when they forget to use their manners or do things that are hurtful.
  • I hope that she will listen well, observe, reflect, and cooperate.
  • I hope that she will join in and participate, and I hope that she will invite others to participate when they need encouragement.
  • I hope that she will concentrate and focus when learning.  But I hope she will free her mind and let her imagination carry her away during free time.
  • I hope that she will embrace her creativity and continue to find creative ways to express herself.
  • I hope that she will know how proud of her I am and how much I love her.
This is my kindergartener.  May the world be kind to her, and may she do great things.

New Hampshire Vacation, Part 5 (the end!).

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

As we packed up and took a few final photos, we were all sad to say goodbye to New Hampshire.  Just look at these sad faces (ha!):

We squeezed in a visit to Clark's Trading Post on our last day.  It is another small-scaled theme park, this time with a fun pioneer theme.  We rode an old-timey train through the woods and tried to scare away the "wolfman" living in the woods, which fascinated and scared Little Brother all at the same time.  We watched a one-ring outdoor circus of Chinese contortionists and acrobats, and marveled at the show bears who would play basketball and ride scooters for a bite of ice cream.  We ate some ice cream ourselves, crushed some pennies, and dipped some wax candles.   

We even dressed up and got our picture taken as a family of cowboys and cowgirls.

 New Hampshire, we had a blast.  Thank you for a wonderful family vacation!

New Hampshire Vacation, Part 4.

We couldn't leave New Hampshire without a visit to North Conway's old Five and Dime and Zeb's General Store.  I could have spent hours there, had there not been bears and kids ready to burn some energy.

So we loaded up and headed to Franconia Notch to visit Flume Gorge.  What an incredible attraction.  We took a two-mile hike to visit a narrow gorged flanked by 80 ft. high granite walls.  The water was clear and rushing fast, and there seemed to be a new waterfall every 100 yards.  We hiked up steep trails, over pine
bridges, and even over a red painted bridge.  Along the way, we stopped and admired the view of the surrounding mountains, glacial boulders, and lush forest vegetation. 


I hiked the entire way, including up hundreds of stairs, with Little Brother on my back.  Big Sister proved she is the best hiker of us all by zipping up and down the mountainside. 


Back at the visitor's center, we watched a film about the "Old Man of the Mountain," which was a granite profile of a man's face that jutted off the side of the mountain for thousands of years.  It is a symbol of the state and even appears on license plates and highway signs.  We were shocked to learn that it came crashing down in 2003, and has not been restored.  All of us, especially Big Sister, were fascinated by this
natural wonder.

New Hampshire Vacation, Part 3.

Santa's Village, in Jefferson, New Hampshire, is every kid's dream.  It is a pristine, charming theme park based totally on Christmas.  I was expecting ridiculously overdone and tacky.  But it wasn't that at all.  It was tasteful and sweet, with pine trees everywhere, buildings shaped like gingerbread houses and igloos, chairs shaped like cupcakes, lollipops lining the paths, and Christmas music playing all around.  All of the rides have a North Pole or Christmas theme, which is perfect for young children. 

Since Santa's in charge, kids get to drive at Santa's Village too.

We rode a carousel, rode a roller coaster (not Little Brother this time -- "too scary"), road a train, decorated gingerbread men and ladies while a rain shower passed through, and watched a 3D movie about one of Santa's elves named "Tink."

The best part of the park was getting diplomas from "Elfabet University," which required each kid to complete the alphabet card-punching game by finding card-punching elves stationed around the park.   


Since it's Christmas every day, we visited with Santa, met and pet the reindeer, and even got friendly with Mother Mary.

We didn't even have time to check out the HO HO H2O waterpark, but we wore ourselves out.  It was a fabulous day.  Merry Summer Christmas!