24 March 2012

Our Trip

So, this trip has been really nice.  Besides the fact that it's great to visit family and enjoy the beautiful weather here, it's nice to just have a break from normal daily life (no doctor's appointments, driving back and forth to preschool, preparing class lessons for my church callings, etc.).  So it'll take a little while to get back into the routine of normal life again after we return next week.

Homeschooling the kids while we've been here has gone well overall.  The boys have done well with their school work, and Lijah's reading has definitely improved.  I'm confident that they will be on track with what the other students have learned while they've been gone (and probably ahead of the others in some areas).  I've learned that teaching is not something that I love (although parts of it have been fun, but I don't have a desire to continue homeschooling in the future or anything).  One nice thing, though, is that with one teacher (me) for just two students (Kolby and Lijah), the teaching and school work can get completed most days in just a few hours, so it leaves a lot of time for other things.  With the great weather here, we've been spending a lot of time outdoors, and I've been looking for any excuse to go hiking in the little open areas and hills all around this area, so it's nice to have time to do that and not have to worry about kids getting ready for school at a certain time or being home in the afternoon when school gets out.  The other day we were on one of hikes -- an especially fun hike when we found some gnarled old orange trees growing out in the open spaces that were left over from the time when I used to hike through all these areas (the entire 4S Ranch development that is now full of houses, schools, and stores used to be an actual ranch where there were miles of brush, dirt roads, cattle, beehives, and a small stand of citrus trees), so the other day when we were hiking and came upon the remnants of that little grove of trees and the kids got to climb the trees and eat their fill of "wild" oranges, they thought it was the best thing ever.  So anyway, on that hike Kolby and I were talking and it went something like this:
Me: So, Kolby, do you like homeschooling or school better?
Kolby: School.
Me: Even when we get to have time to go on hikes and stuff?
Kolby: Yeah.
Me: So, while we were here on this trip, would you rather have done homeschooling or gone to school here?
Kolby: Go to school here.
Me: So, would you like to just stay here for the next few months with Nana and Papa and go to school here, or go back to New York and finish up school there before we move?
Kolby: Go back to school in New York.
His answers didn't really surprise me.  He loves school so much, and really has a lot of fun with his friends and his teachers.  I think it's good that the boys will have a chance to finish up school with their classmates in New York before we move, and I also think that they will be looking forward to their new classes at a new school here so much, that hopefully the transition to a new place after we move here in the summer time won't be too difficult for them.

So, as I said, we've enjoyed lots of day hikes while we've been here, and my brother Matthew has been ever willing to hike as far or as long as I like, and often ends up carrying a kid or two along the way.  We hiked the hills right around my parents' house a number of times, including a hike down to a small grove of eucalyptus trees nearby where we found a cool little fort that must have been built by some kids and a little pond.  We also had a nice long hike one day from the park near Lake Hodges over the hills back to my parents' house -- that hike was probably our most difficult, since we had a time constraint (had to get back home in about 2 hours for a job Matthew was doing) and we ended up breaking brush through about 4 feet of pretty much constant bushes for the last 3rd of the hike, with 5 little boys in tow.  Then there was the hike where we found the little old orange grove.  Michelle was here by then, and she and Sadie came along on that one (Lizzie stayed home with Nana to play with her friend, Ciena, that day).  We were gone several hours, and we hiked on some walking trails through the 4S Ranch neighborhood before heading up past the orange trees, then hiking to a pond with a dam where I used to hike as a kid, then we headed up the hill toward the house where I grew up and after some searching we were very excited to find our old "fort" (a tree/oversized bush down on a hill covered with bushes -- once you can find the right tree and hike down to it, you find a large open area under the tree where there is a bench and a little wooden platform in the branches, so there's a large play area that can't be seen at all from outside of the tree: a kid's paradise!)  The boys were so excited that we finally found the fort, that they informed me that is where they want to live after we move to California.  Then yesterday Michael, Matthew, the boys, and I went and hiked Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve, a large open area not far from here.  We ended up doing a 6 mile hike (the boys did quite well, but 4 to 5 miles is probably actually a better distance for them at their current ages).  We hiked in, found a waterfall -- the waterfall itself was cool, but not especially impressive -- the massive boulders in and around the water were the most impressive features of the area.  And the boys impressed Michael with their climbing abilities yet again.  I think that one great thing about living in all these cold places all these years is that I won't take for granted the great place that we get to live in (I think that maybe if I had stayed in San Diego all my life, I might not have taken advantage of every opportunity to be outdoors like I have been doing since we've been here).

I've also had a great time just hanging out with my siblings.  Matthew and I are great buddies, and it's fun to see Michelle as she is in the same kind of situation as me with 2 little kids and another on the way -- I feel like we're the same age (when we were younger, she always seemed like a little kid to me since she was 4 years younger).  And although Aaron has been busy with high school, daily track practice, and lots of homework, it's been fun to hang out with him too and see how he has grown up, and what a fun sense of humor he has.

Michael and I also went one day with Brad Butner, our realtor here (who I've known from church since I was a kid), to look at houses.  Although we know that the houses that are on the market right now probably won't be available when we get back out here and are ready to purchase a home, I wanted Michael to get an idea of what kinds of houses (old vs. new, large vs. small lots, upgraded vs. need work, etc) are available in the different areas of the Poway school district.  He did just that, and we got a lot of good information to keep in mind as we save up for a down payment, and as we will start some serious house hunting after we move back out here.  Although there are still lots of unknowns, (which is hard for me because I love to have my life all planned out), we're excited for what life will bring us over the next year or so.  It'll be nice to finally settle down in a place where we won't have to move after a few years, like we've had to do every few years for our entire married life.

It's also been fun to use the jacuzzi and pool here at my parents' house.  Although the pool has really been too cold for swimming since it technically is "winter" time here, Michael and the boys have gotten into the pool a bit.  But we've all spent a lot of time in the jacuzzi -- we've done a lot of "warm tubbing" (instead of hot tubbing) since Michelle is pregnant and can't have it too hot, bit 98 degrees works pretty well to keep it warm enough, but cool enough for Michelle and the small kids.  The really fun thing, though, is that Kolby started swimming while we were here.  He and Lijah had each been taking turns paddling around the pool, going down the water slide, and even jumping off the little rock waterfall while holding onto a little orange floating board.  But one day he just told me that he could swim, and I told him if he could go across the pool and back without any help, then he could go in the pool without the floating board.  He gave it one try and panicked a bit so I had to jump into the cold water and pull him out, but almost immediately he tried again and swam all the way across and back, so that was way cool.  And then this weekend we were in the jacuzzi and all of a sudden Isaac started swimming by himself.  He would just be paddling around with his head under the water, and Michael and I kept pulling him out to make sure he was ok, but he'd just have a big smile on his face and go right back under.  It really is exciting for us to see him so suddenly start swimming all on his own.  Camden, Kolby, and Lijah had all been taking turns seeing who could hold their breath underwater the longest.  And I'm pretty sure that Lijah got to the point where he was actually swimming on his own too (although he's really too tall to tell for sure if he was actually swimming in the jacuzzi or not, but he looked like he was doing quite well).  And Courtland was so cute -- he kept doing "bobs," dunking his face under the water for a few seconds at a time.  And he'd say he was swimming when he jumped to us in the water -- it was so cute when he'd start paddling with his hands in the air before he even hit the water.  I think that it won't take long at all once we get back here and are able to swim in the pool in the summer time before all the boys are swimming.

Well, we've only got a few days left here.  Michelle and Jake and the girls are heading back today.  (It has been so fun to see the boys playing with their little cousins).  This afternoon we're planning on heading to the beach to check out some tide pools.  Then there will be church on Sunday.  And late Monday night we will fly out -- we're taking a gamble and trying out a red eye flight with the kids for the first time (that will either go really well, or be awful).  But I'm crossing my fingers that it will go well, and they'll just sleep through the whole flight.  It'll take us a day or so before we get back into things, and then the boys will be back to school, I will have to get back to real life, and it will be time to do the last few projects to get the house ready to sell.  Well, I guess I just need to take it all one step at a time, and things will turn out as they should.  But anyway, we'll be home again before too long, and no matter how great a vacation is, it's always good to be home again.

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