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Sep 15, 2012

Lassen Volcanic camping trip

After our fun trip to Yosemite, our second camping trip of the season was at Lassen Volcanic National park, and it was a great end of a fun summer. On our longest camping trip yet (3 days), we had the chance to visit most of the park highlights.

First, we visited Sulphur Works, with boiling mud pots and geysers. It was a fun and relaxing hike, and a great way to get to know the park.

On the second day, we climbed Cedar Cone, an old volcano that offers amazing views from the top. The hike is quite challenging due to the sandy aspect of the climb. But Daniel did great, climbing faster that some of the grown up around us (and despite wearing a shoe that was way too tight, as we discovered later!) The reward as the top is astounding views of the surrounding mountains and lava flows.
The spent the afternoon after this long hike splashing in the river by the campground, which the kids loved!

On our last day, we drove all the way to the other end of the park, to Drakesbad Ranch, where we hiked one last time and enjoyed a fun lunch next to horses. It was another rough farewell, where the kids had their share of whining. But it was again a great sign that they really enjoyed this type of trip.

I see more camping trips in our future!

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Aug 12, 2012

A whole new person

We recently went on vacation to visit family in Europe and we had the chance to spend more time as a family. Everyone had a great time. I already expected that Daniel would do well given how well he knows the family and his fluency in both French and German by now. Charlotte surprised me most. She just became a whole new person during the trip. He language skills completely flourished (although mostly in English) and she started telling entire stories. She also started repeating a lot of words she would hear, in all languages, showing that she now can pronounce most sounds and is interested in making sense of words. This is a new behavior for her, which I had been eager to see develop... It was long time in the making. Charlotte also did great in the activities we had planned, often interacting and playing with the older kids and keeping up with the pace. (e.g. going horseback riding or hiking to visit a farm). She was easy-going most of the time and obviously enjoyed all the activities. I was really blown away about her progress, and very excited to realize that the baby phase is over. This little girl is now becoming a self-confident, self-reliant member of our family. I can't wait to see her continue to develop.
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Jul 28, 2012

Yosemite trip

Last week, we had another big milestone in our family life. After last year's first quick camping trip at Pinnacles, we went camping for 2 nights for the first time. And it was a great success. We were lucky to get a reservation at a campground in Yosemite, on a weekend where the weather was perfect, if not a little too hot. We spent a weekend exploring the valley, hiking, looking for wildlife (not very successfully though) and enjoying the outdoors. It was fun!
Even though Daniel had a short phase of accidents after a long hike to the top of Bernal Fall (bitten by a squirrel - or so he thinks, and a fall leading to a cut gum), he quickly recovered and enjoyed the rest of the trip. A few minutes later, he was again climbing on boulders, running around, and enjoying being outdoors to use his endless energy. The hardest part was leaving. Everyone was heart-broken, but Daniel had the hardest time. It seems to be a pattern for him lately, and I think this had to do with the age (although he already showed similar behavior at 18 months) . Daniel is so passionate about everything, and he loves new adventures. Even though we keep telling him and finishing an adventure means that a new one will be starting soon, he still has a hard time saying good bye. Fortunately, a few days later, we were on our way to a great trip to Europe. So the Yosemite nostalgia was limited. And we have another camping trip to look forward to in a few weeks, which should be a great way to wrap up the summer.
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Jul 8, 2012

Proud mommy!

These last couple of days have been really exciting for me, as Daniel has demonstrated many times how far he has come and that he is starting to be a big boy. It started with a parent-teacher conference on Friday morning, where we learned that Daniel was doing very well transitioning to his new classroom, the last step before Kindergarden. In only a few days, he had already been participating in all activities and had done very well. Also, he was about to get the "Super Friend of the Week" medal for good listening and helping. This was very encouraging since just a few weeks ago, Daniel had had some discipline issues at school. He had taken the feedback to heart and was making a lot of efforts to be a great model in the classroom. This had paid off! The teacher had actually nothing to say when we asked what Daniel needed to improve on! Yes, I know this kid is perfect, after all. (Joking!)

On Saturday, we had a couple of other great milestones. We went through our typical Saturday routine and Daniel had a good piano lesson, where he continued to make a lot of progress. During swimming, Daniel proved that he can swim better than me, getting close to mastering free style. I was very impressed. Over the last couple of weeks, he had been learning the techniques, but in small increments, having a hard time following all the direction at once. On Saturday, he got it: all the pieces were coming together very nicely. It was so great to see.

We continued our Saturday activities with a great 3-mile hike at Steven's Creek Nature Trail. It's a great hike, that goes through a variety of landscapes, from grassland to forest. We came in in the late afternoon and we were lucky to see a coyote and several deers, additionally to all the usual small creatures on the trail. But the best was seeing Daniel hike the entire time, a very happy camper. He was interested in what we were seeing, enjoying the nature (and the abundance of stocks!) and keeping a very good pace with us. Given his morning swim activities, I wasn't sure what to expect, but it was great to see that he did very well. We finished the evening with him building a very complex lego structure, and his thought process through the exercise was interesting to watch.

On Sunday, our big event was a 3-mile bike ride to get an early dinner in downtown. It was so much fun, being able to zoom through the long street, not just going in circles at the park. Daniel did well too!
So, I guess he is ready for a triathlon pretty soon, huh? It took 4.5 years, but it's starting to be so much fun now. So great to see Daniel develop into this great little boy.

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Jun 23, 2012

Loving our Saturday morning routine

By the time the weekend comes around, I am usually more than exhausted by the work week. When the kids wake us up on Saturday mornings, I think with nostalgia of the time when I could sleep in as much as I wanted and quickly recover from a busy week. But, this isn't in the cards at this point, so I might as well enjoy the cuddles, the smiles and the silly things, and get us ready for our fun Saturday morning routine. While the first couple of minutes are always the hardest, I have really come to enjoy our Saturday mornings. There is nothing that a good cup of coffee and a great workout can't overcome. So, here we go.
After our breakfast, the kids and I pack 3 different bags (and the occasional birthday present if we ended up topping our activities with a birthday party) and get going. First stop: workout for mama at Dailey Method, which offers a great daycare for the kids. They typically run to the slide the first minute we come in, and never look back. They have fun, and I get a real excuse to wake up. It's a tough workout, and the hour sometimes feels long. But by the end of it, I usually have a lot of energy and I am so glad I went through it. I definitely notice the benefits through the rest of my week, which is very useful.

After the class, we make our way to Daniel's piano class via a pit stop at Jamba Juice. Daniel has been taking piano classes for almost a year and he really enjoys them. We found these classes at Penpiano, that cater towards 3-4 years old. Very well done. Daniel at his first piano recital During Daniel's lesson, Charlotte and I hang out at the library next door, which happens to offer Story Time right at the same time. Perfect. Charlotte loves singing and dancing, and she enjoys the show.
Finally, our morning ends at the Menlo Park pool, where Daniel attends swim classes and Charlotte enjoys the baby pool (at least in the summer). They both have a blast!
By the time we go home, we have all had a lot of fun and time as a family, and I have found a renewed energy. It's a busy schedule, but it's something I have come to enjoy. And on the days, I am still very tired, I know that when these activities are over, the kids are ready for a long nap... and I can rest too. 

And if this is not enough, roles are reversed on Sundays, so my husband gets to take the kids out while I get some rest. His routine is slightly different: breakfast, playground, shopping. But I know the 3 of them enjoy it too. So, it's all good. And, it's more than what we used to do on weekends a couple of years ago, when we were still getting used to the routine with kids. Now that they are older, it's really starting to be fun and I am sure it will continue to evolve towards more interesting activities. Can I hold on to this new routine for a while, before they get even older, though?
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