Monday, August 26, 2013

Back to School

I'm going to skip ahead to the days leading up to back to school but never fear. I will go back and finish up with our vacation later in the week.

Friday the kids and I had back to school night. I was very happy with their teacher assignments for the upcoming school year. Jake is going into 4th grade and I didn't dare try to take his picture in his new classroom. He has made it crystal clear that he is getting too old for such things. Although he likes school, he wasn't quite ready for summer vacation to be over. Jadyn on the other hand was super excited for back to school:


On Saturday, we headed over to Joshua Tree for a birthday party at Sunburst Park. It was the perfect way to end our summer as we hadn't been to the splash park all season, not to mention the chance to be around great friends!



The first day of school is always a mixture of excitement and nerves for me as a parent and someone that works at the school, but especially for the kids. I just still can't believe that I have a 2nd and 4th grader but at the same time, I am very optimistic for the upcoming school year and can't wait for all that it promises to bring.




Sunday, August 25, 2013

Back to School Revisited

On the eve of back to school, I thought it would be fun to look at back to school pictures from years past and yes, I am kicking myself for not getting a 1st grade pic of Jake in front of the same tree as the rest of them. These are all pictures since we have been in the new house.

1st grade


2nd grade:


3rd grade:


Preschool 4:




1st grade:


Saturday, August 24, 2013

Beach Vacation Day 1: The Beach

We arrived at Del Mar Beach aboard Camp Pendleton on Monday and spent a glorious afternoon on the beach. The kids boogie boarded and played in the sand and boogie boarded some more.




When they got out of the water the final time, they both requested to be buried in the sand because they were cold. This proves you can take a desert rat out of the desert but you can't take the desert out of them. They love the beach but will always, always, always prefer the river.


My view, getting plenty of time to relax and READ. My favorite beach activity:


After meeting up with Cruz and Tara and checking in to our beach cottage, we cleaned as much of the sand off as we could and headed up the coast to my absolute favorite restaurant, which was a weekly outing for Joe and I back in the days when we called Camp Pendleton home.



Once back at the cottage, we were joined by the Miller family and had a bonfire on the beach complete with drinks for the adults and S'mores for the kids. It was a great start to our mini-vacay.

Friday, August 16, 2013

3rd Annual Needles River Trip

Are you sick of seeing pictures of the kids in the water? Between the water park, the beach, day trips to the river and swim lessons, I feel like the kids (and I to only a slightly lesser degree) have LIVED in our bathing suits this summer. And it's not quite over yet.

Last week, we took our now annual trip overnight to the Needles/Topock area of the river. This year we opted out of staying in Laughlin, which meant Kuma got to come along too since we found a pet friendly hotel in town. We were joined this year by Grand Bob and Grannie Annie, the Miller family and Tara (Cruz couldn't come because he is in a cast yet AGAIN).

Here is a picture of all my babies, in the car and excited for the trip:


With a bigger group going, we had two boats (ours and Grand Bob's). Joe had an idea of how to divide everyone up in the boats but I don't think he thought through how it would look to have two grown men in a boat with the dogs and no one else. Not that there is anything wrong with that (classic Seinfeld):


Some snapshots of daycamping the first day with the top of the gorge as our backdrop:




Cool little sandcastle the kids all built:


After getting off the water, we cleaned up, ate dinner and then the kids swam in the hotel pool. This is what happens when Jadyn a) doesn't get enough sleep and b) goes to bed with wet hair. It isn't pretty (and yes, Kuma is exhausted as well):


The next day we daycamped at a new beach. Kuma kept swimming out to try and catch ducks (surprise, surprise, he never did) and the kids had fun making a riverway across the sandbar:



Once we got back on the boat, Jadyn took a turn at driving. She was a little nervous, even on Grand Bob's lap:


 She was much happier to just be a passenger:


 The kids also got to try their hand at tubing again, this year with a little more success:



 On the way back in, Jake started to doze off but he caught me trying to take his picture. Oops!:


So yes, two full days on the water is fun but also quite exhausting. And as I mentioned,  we are not done with the water just yet. Our annual mini-vacation down to the beach is next week (later in the summer than usual). We are packing it in literally RIGHT before the kids and I head back to school.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Cub Scouts Raingutter Regatta

Jake's den for Cub Scouts has had one special meeting per month during the summer, which will qualify them for a special award. For August, the den put together their first annual Raingutter Regatta and it was such a blast, I am sure it will not be the last!

The concept is similar to the Pinewood Derby but instead of making a car, Jake received a kit to make a sailboat. The only difference was the sailboat was A LOT easier than the car. Heather, our wonderful den leader, also gave Jadyn a kit to make a boat as well.

Here are the kids before leaving with their boats. Jake's design was military inspired and Jadyn's was covered in puppy stickers (no surprises there!):


All the boys with their boats:


Here are some pictures of them racing the boats. The idea is to blow air through a straw in order to propel your boat down the "raingutter":




After the cub scouts raced, all the boys and their siblings got to play. They couldn't get enough!:


Then to make it even more fun, Heather came up with these regatta themed cupcakes:


Jake placed 3rd in the race but even better, he received the award for best design. Here he is with Mrs. Heather (again cannot say enough great things about her and I am so blessed to call her a friend):


It was a fun way to spend a summer afternoon and the start of a great tradition.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Beach Preview

Next week we are going on a family vacation to the beach but this last week, the kids and I drove to visit my good friend Rose and her family who moved to Murrieta a few years ago. After a nice evening at their house (including dinner, bike riding, and a viewing of Pitch Perfect, which Rose had never seen), we woke up the next morning and headed out to the beach (about an hour away).

Rose took the kids and I to this particular beach last year too. She claimed it was magical and I was skeptical to the say the least. However, after spending the day there, I was a convinced. This year's trip only solidified its' standing as being magical, especially when we got to park in a parking lot FOR FREE!

On the bluff overlooking the beach and we came prepared with our boards. Isn't Jadyn the cutest surfer chick ever?


Swami's does require that you go down just a "few" stairs to get to the beach. Bonus; the climb back up counts as your workout for the day and will leave someone like me with sore calves for FOUR days afterwards:


But so worth the smiles as the kids ride some "tasty" waves:




Alas, the magic cannot last forever. Once closer to home, it was quite apparent that there was yet another wildfire, which although over an hour from our house, still brought smoke and ash our way. This has been the 4th fire so far this summer. I am over it!:


Having such a good day with friends like this is bittersweet. We had so much fun but it makes me sad that they no longer live close by.

However, it definitely got us excited to be at the beach for 4 straight days next week. Can't wait!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Our own version of Shark Week

With me done working summer school, the kids did one more session of swim lessons. By the end of the week, both Jake and Jadyn were diving off the block like old pros:



While Jake is very confident in most of the skills covered in this level (known as Sharks), it hasn't been so easy for Jadyn. She is by far the youngest in the class and she moved through the levels very quickly. Diving off the block in particular was very daunting to her and she has struggled trying to learn the breaststroke. However, she has not given up and I am so proud of all the progress she made in such a short amount of time.

Watching Jake in the water this last week, it was clear that he has become a proficient swimmer so I am not sure why it surprised me so much when he was presented with a certificate of completion! He had passed Sharks, which is the highest level in the American Red Cross Learn to Swim program. The next step for him, should he choose to continue (and I hope he does) would be Guard Start training when he turns 11 to train to become a junior lifeguard. Until then he can take Sharks again to keep practicing or continue to practice on his own. Very cool.


 While we are done with swim lessons and the community pool for the summer, the kids will still have plenty of opportunity to swim. Our summer isn't over yet!