Back to School.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Summer's over, and it's time to get back to the school routine.  But this year the routine is different.  Little Brother, who isn't so little anymore, is starting kindergarten.

I remember when we sent him to preschool.  He was a sweet baby with a big, toothless smile.  When he had a hard time, the teachers would open the door to the adjoining room so he could get a hug from his big sister.  Now, in the blink of an eye, he's too big for that amazing school that we've loved so much and joining Big Sister at her school.  He might still need a hug from the big girl down the hall, as he's a little bit nervous about this big change.

But he'll do fine.  He's a spunky kid who likes to explore and make new friends.  I think he'll end up enjoying this kindergarten adventure.

We've been through this before.  We've sent a tiny kid off to kindergarten with a big backpack and lots of big hopes.  So why is this such a big moment?  Because this is such a different kid.

It's not that I don't hope those same things for this kid.  I definitely do!  But he's a unique little creature and I find myself thinking about different things.
  • I hope he will not compare the new school to the preschool he loves so much, but will embrace the new school as a new experience.
  • I hope he will make new friends and not dwell too much on the preschool friends he misses.
  • I hope he will make it to the bathroom in time.  And when he doesn't, I hope he can recover well.
  • I hope he can sit still when necessary and stay quiet when necessary.
  • I hope he will run his little heart out during PE and recess so that he can focus the rest of the day.
  • I hope he will love learning.  I hope he will learn to love reading.  And writing.
  • I hope that when he gets frustrated, he will slow down and calm himself instead of letting his temper flare.
  • I hope he will let his happy and bright personality shine.
  • I hope he uses his mischievous side for good.
  • I hope he will soon come to be known simply as the great kid that he is, rather than as Big Sister's little brother.  But I hope that he will find comfort in having Big Sister down the hall.
  • I hope he will eat his lunch and not be picky about what we put in his lunchbox.
  • I hope he will not be afraid to try new things, even when he believes he will not be good at them.
  • I hope he will keep trying when things get tough. 
  • I hope he loves school and that this is the beginning of great things for this kid.
I love this kid so much, and I am so proud of him.  I hope he knows that.

That guy isn't the only one growing up around here.  This big kid is starting third grade.  Third!  She's got a teacher who loves Wonder Woman, and then she gets to spend part of the day with the other teacher who raises chickens right there at the school.  I've got a feeling that this will be a good year for this superstar.

Truth be told, it should be a good year for this mama too, who only has to pick up at one school and only has to manage one school schedule.   Hats off to a great start of a great year!

San Diego Vacation, Part 3, Torrey Pines Hike.

Friday, August 15, 2014

This is the last installment of our San Diego adventures.  Part 1 can be found here, and Part 2 can be found here.

This post is devoted to what may seem a small outing, but was probably Mr. Great's favorite part of our trip (unless it was La Jolla kayaking; tough choice!).

We went to the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve.  Because we wanted something fun and doable for little legs, we chose the Guy Fleming Trail.  It's only 2/3 mile, and I would have loved to hike much, much more.  But it was just right for our tired family that day.  It's an easy, well-marked trail with interesting things to see around each bend.

We got to study torrey pine trees up close.  They're the most endangered pine species in the United States, and the grow only in San Diego and one other place that I've now forgotten (some island maybe?).  They have large, pretty pinecones and needles grouped in clumps of five.

The best part of this trail was the view of the ocean.  It's spectacular.  It put a big smile on my cute husband's face.

Our little family loves to hike, but we don't do it often enough.  It's so important to get out and explore the world around us.  It's so good for us.

Along our hike, we saw a few serious trail runners tackling the Torrey Pines trails.  As we finished our loop, I told Mr. Great to take a lap.  So he went for a run.  He returned feeling like a million bucks.

This little guy, however, didn't think it was at all fair.

So the kids did a little trail running, too.

And then we were all happy.

San Diego Vacation, Part 2.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Continuing our adventures in San Diego...

Day 4 was Zoo Day.  We got an early start and beat the crowds, which was very nice.

We headed straight to the pandas, which Big Sister had been very excited about.  They were sleeping, but they were cute nappers.  

We then covered lots of ground and saw all sorts of amazing creatures.  Big sister fell in love with the koalas. 

 Little Brother got tired of walking, so we hopped on the aerial tram and enjoyed the birds-eye view.

After a long zoo day, we treated ourselves to big milkshakes at the Corvette Diner.

We began the next day with an amazing hike, which I'll cover in a separate post because I did a better job photographing that part of the trip.  We followed that with a good pizza lunch and a walk around dock to see some boats.

After the hike, we headed to the U.S.S. Midway museum, which was amazing and overwhelming.  We walked all over the ship and explored old aircraft on display. 

We finally got a dip in the hotel pool, and then ate some good Mexican food in Old Town, for another full day.  

Our last full day began with a big pancake breakfast and a trip to the Cabrillo National Monument at Point Loma.  We kept the hikes a bit shorter, but still explored an old light house and saw some breathtaking views. 

We also explored some World War II-era artillery bunkers and learned about the Japanese threat to our country and the importance of the triangulation and communication in the event of an invasion. 

After completing some activities to show that they'd learned about the national monument, the history of the area, and the environment, the kids earned National Junior Ranger badges and were sworn in as protectors of our parks and environment.

We ended the day, and the trip, with a shuttle ride to Harbor Island for the Big Bay Boom Independence Day fireworks spectacular.  We were amazed at how beautiful it was before dark, after dark, and when lit up with impressive fireworks.  

It was a great ending to a great trip.