Saturday, September 27, 2014

Tulare Sprint Triathlon

Last year, Jason tried out his first sprint triathlon and really enjoyed the experience.  He's been training for it again this year.  It's ideal for him because the distance is shorter and since it combines three different events, the training has been easier on his body.  Grace also decided to participate and so it was kind of like a father-daughter triathlon.

Jason's Race

 Grace's Race

 She was exhausted but pushed through!
Great job, Daddy and Daughter!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Difficult Start to Fifth Grade

With me working part-time this year, I have been able to spend a lot more time being involved in our kids' school activities.  Grace has had a hard time adjusting to fifth grade.  Everything has come pretty easily to her in previous years, but not this year.  Not only has the workload increased, but this is the first year that students have nightly homework instead of a weekly packet.  She is learning how to be more responsible and thankfully, I have been able to help out by picking her up from school and making sure she has everything she needs to take home with her.  So far, it has been a nightly struggle with homework.  I keep reminding her that I have years of experience teaching fifth grade, so I definitely know what I am talking about.  But, just like what other parents have shared with me in previous years, it's always the "teacher's way" that is the best, regardless of what mom and dad know.  I am writing this so that maybe at the end of the year, we can look back to see where and how we started and what was needed in order for success to be achieved.  For now though, life in our household has been difficult and centered around helping Grace through this learning experience. 
In addition to having more time to help with Grace's schoolwork, I was able to go watch Grace play volleyball several times.  There are over 20 girls on the fifth grade team, so she doesn't get to play very much, but she is still loving it.
Grace is also continuing her piano lessons with Auntie Christa and she decided to also continue with violin.  Funny story to look back on some day:
Grace came home and shared with us that she was going to be in Beginning Orchestra again this year.  Jason and I were quite surprised to hear this, but even more so when she said, "You know what's funny?  My teacher didn't even remember me from last year!"  Jason and I couldn't believe our ears.  We emailed the teacher, and asked if she could give us suggestions on how to better support Grace's practice time.  After all, Grace had been very dedicated the year before, waking up before even I did to make sure she had time to practice.  The teacher didn't ever reply.  A few days later though, the teacher did have the students play for her individually.  They were given 2 songs from last year, and 2 new songs they'd have to read and play on the spot.  When I talked to Grace afterschool, she said, "I didn't make it into Intermediate Orchestra..." My mind started spinning but Grace quickly followed that up with, "I made it into Advanced Orchestra!"  So basically, she went from almost having to repeat an entire year of orchestra, to playing in the school's highest level of orchestra... To say that this annoys me is an understatement! How did the teacher not know of Grace's abilities after a whole year with her?  Who knows how many other kids have slipped through the cracks?! 
Anyways, all of this to say: Grace has a very full plate so far this year!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Avett Brothers Concert

Jason is a huge Avett Brothers fan, so we went to their concert and had a nice getaway to the Bay Area.  The concert was at the Greek Theater in Berkeley.  We had a nice dinner before heading there.  The opening act was Brandi Carlisle and the place was packed when we arrived.  It was General Admission seating and it looked like we'd end up in the boonies.  Fortunately, we took the time to walk around and actually ended up sitting in fantastic seats. It was a wonderful concert- the Avett Brothers are so talented!

 We found a small little place in Berkeley through to stay for the night.  The next morning, we headed to a street festival in Berkeley before going back home. 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Dad's Annual Birthday Party

It's a very special day for our family to get together and celebrate Dad.  We continued our tradition of releasing balloons and then going for teppanyaki and Coldstone afterwards.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Visit to the Exploratorium

I am currently in the process of trying to organize a possible field trip for our district's GATE students later this year, and the Exploratorium is one of the places we're considering.  It was perfect then, that we wanted to take our kids there to check it out.

 The place is completely filled with interactive, hands-on exhibits which is perfect for our kids' ages.

 We did our best to engage in as many exhibits as possible, and yet we still left not quite seeing everything.  It was a brain overload, that's for sure!  Our family had a wonderful time (it'll definitely be different when I bring a group of over 130 GATE kids on 3 different days!).
We didn't want to pay the ridiculous prices for lunch in the Exploratorium's cafe, so we walked to Pier 39 and had clam chowder at Boudin Bakery Cafe.  

San Francisco Getaway

We decided to go on one last getaway before the summer was officially over.  We took the kids to San Francisco and stayed in our timeshare overnight.  Along the way, we stopped off at Treasure Island and discovered a wonderful find- Treasure Island's Flea Market.  It only takes place once a month.

 Other than walking around and eating from the food trucks, we didn't buy anything else.
 The city in the background
 Driving over the Bay Bridge towards the city
 The marina- we stopped here to walk around and explore
We found our way to the Wave Organ (it's an environmental art fixture that makes music when the waves come in).  I guess we didn't come at the right time, since we didn't hear anything.  It was a nice walk though.

Labor Day Backyard Movie Night

I saw this idea on Pinterest a few months ago and finally decided to just do it.  We had a backyard movie night on the Friday before Labor Day.  We set up a king-size white sheet on our patio pergola, and brought home speakers/projector from Jason's work.  We wanted it to be a laid-back, fun evening with good friends.  I told Jason that my heart felt full as I looked around and saw our friends all in one place, people talking and kids playing... In that moment, I just felt so blessed that we have such a wonderful community of people in our lives.
We had pizza and salad, and then of course movie snacks for the movie.  The kids chose to watch Despicable Me 2.  It was such a fun night that it'll probably become an annual Labor Day tradition.