Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Spring Break

April 14, 2009

While some of my school teacher friends are just now getting out for spring break, I am coming back from mine, returning to the real world of work and students and grading papers. As always, spring break came at a time when a respite was not only welcome, but necessary. It's a strategic recharging of the batteries before we head into the home stretch of the school year. I think I'm ready. I think.

Luckily, spring break usually means getting to see my sister and her girls. We traveled down south to Corona for five days of relaxation (as much as one can have with six children around) and fun. As soon as we arrived, we got to see a show put on by my nieces. They had recently auditioned for a school talent show, and were eager to share their routines. Devin and Bailey did a pop-dance number, Taylor did a tap number, and Devin belted out an impressive song selection. You've just gotta love that kind of welcome!

The next day was pretty mellow. Lisa's girls were still in school last week, so they had to head out early while my darlins got to sleep in. When they got home from school, we took the girls to their karate class, and then all headed out for a Target excursion.

Friday while the girls were still at school, Lisa, my kids, and I all decided to take a tour of the UC Irvine campus, which isn't too much of a drive from Lisa's house. Brianna, my 15 year old, is beginning the process of figuring out where she wants to go to college. There are lots of aspects to consider, including cost, potential for scholarships, location, major offerings, housing, etc. Since Lisa graduated from UCI and I did my graduate work there, we figured that was a good place to start. For all three of my kids, this was their first up-close-and-personal look at a college campus. We talked to them about the parking passes (a novel idea for kids who've never had to pay to park anywhere), and showed them the cafeterias, the various 'schools' within the school, the bookstore, and the library. We were even fortunate enough to meet up with a former student of mine who was willing to show us around her dorm.

As it turns out, once we started looking into the major offerings, we discovered that UCI is probably not the best choice for Bree, since there are schools out there with stronger Public Relations majors, which is the interest she is most leaning toward as a focus of her studies. However, Nicholas was absolutely enamored of the school (the library in particular held him in awe), and since he's interested right now in something in the field of engineering, UCI would be a great fit for him. We've got a lot of time before he's ready to move out on his own and start college (he's only in sixth grade), but in the meantime, I'm thrilled to have given him a concrete visual of the kind of place he could end up after he graduates from high school. Even Danielle (my 4th grader) was asking questions about her interests and what kinds of schools they might lead her to. Since I had never even stepped foot onto a college campus before I registered for my first semester, I am really excited about beginning these conversations with the kids now. Over the course of the next year and a half, I plan to take several more trips to visit college campuses, and although some of those will be just mother-daughter trips for Bree and me, I want to take Nicholas and Danielle on some of them, too, just so they can see what's out there.

After the big college outing, we headed to a local park to let the kids burn off some energy. There's nothing else like playing on the swings to make you feel free. The kids also decided to sail across the slider on the monkeybars with their feet up in the air, a la the coolest ninjas ever.

Saturday, Lisa had to work so I took the kids to see a movie. More specifically, my 15 year old, good sport that she is, agreed to take all the little girls to see Hannah Montana while I took Nicholas to see Monsters Vs. Aliens. I thought it would be cruel to subject Nicholas to the Hannah Montana experience, and I wasn't much more excited about it than he was. While I thought Monsters Vs. Aliens was no cinematic masterpiece, I think I got the better end of that deal. Afterward we headed to a nearby Barnes and Noble (my idea of heaven, and luckily, my childrens' too) to pick out some new books.

Finally, it was time for the big event that all of the kids had been anticipating: the dyeing of the Easter eggs. We picked Lisa up from work, and got busy boiling the eggs. Actually, Devin took charge and got all the prep work done, including dividing up the eggs evenly among the cousins. Lisa and I put on some great 70s and 80s tunes to belt out while the kids got to work on the eggs. (Egg-dyeing should never go on without much singing and dancing!) True to their individual personalities, there were varying degrees of 'splash-and-go' and meticulous crafting of the final egg products. If you know the kids, it isn't hard to guess which kids fell at which end of the spectrum. Ah, nostalgia...one of my strongest memories of Easter from when I was a kid is getting all dressed up in Easter finery to go to church on Sunday morning, whilst simultaneously sporting livid shades of blue, purple, and green up to my mid- forearms. Devin and Danielle did their best to recreate that memory for me. I think Danielle still has hints of the dye on her hands today.

Dancing and dyeing done, we began the Herculean task of getting five excited children off to bed so the Easter bunny could pay his visit. (I say five because the sixth, the 15 year old, is of course in on the gig, so we didn't feel the need to usher her off to bed.) Then began the filling of the plastic eggs and the baskets (with a little taste of chocolate now and then for the Easter bunnies). We fell into bed way too late, knowing how early all the kids would be up.

They were, in fact, up awfully early, ready to begin the trading of goods in the baskets. With a breakfast of pure sugar coursing through their veins, they were off to hunt down the hidden eggs. (Okay, so don't judge; I always had a breakfast of pure sugar on Easter Sunday when I was growing up, and look how I turned out! One day a year doesn't kill them.) The Easter bunny had to get quite creative to hide the amount of eggs he had garnered, since Lisa's backyard is pretty small and is mostly taken up with a swimming pool. In short order, the kids managed to find all 175 treasures (what were we thinking?) and settled into a second round of bartering before we had to head out on our way home.

Kids snoozing in the backseat, the trip home was quiet and uneventful. Much as I love visiting and being with Lisa and the girls, I was grateful to finally get back home to Doug, to my own home, and to my own bed. I slept very soundly Sunday night: )

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