WOW. Last week was insane. It was very fun though, so here's a recap!
Outdoor Ed week started on Monday. We loaded the girls' gear into my van, watched the kids board the bus, and headed up to Keystone. We hit the Starbucks in Golden first and noted the others, for our return trip! We went over Loveland Pass and it was so beautiful. And odd to see it without snow. When we got to Keystone, we emptied the van and the kids lugged their gear to their bunks. I was in the Girl's Bunk and didn't see Ted except at dinner that day. We got the girls settled in their rooms and took them to lunch at the dining hall. There, they got their "welcome to Keystone" speech and we parents & teacher got ours in another area. After the de-briefing, we met up with our groups for a short hike and a talk about the rock cycle. I was with half of Ted's class, but not with him, as planned. That night was Spaghetti Night and the kids loaded up. Ted had noodles with cheese and informed me later than there wasn't enough fruit or veggies. I agreed with him! Then they had the night program, which had 4 stations that highlighted astronomy. The highlight was looking out of the telescope, I think. Although it was a cloudy night, we could see trees for miles and the kids loved it. They also did stages of the moon in the yurt and the planets' distances from each other in the dining hall. I can't remember the 4th station - I think it involved playdoh and making the planets the right size, respective to each other, but we didn't get to that one. That night was hard. 3 of the girls in particular were very homesick so none of the adults got much sleep. We pounded the coffee the next morning and I was sent out with Ted's group for the day (hooray!) At breakfast (pancakes), the kids made their own lunches to take out for the day. Ted made a peanut butter, pickle and cheese sandwich and was disappointed that there wasn't any fruit. We got in the Keystone van and drove to Breckenridge where we hiked through a beautiful aspen grove (natural sunscreen on the bark of an aspen!) to a rock quarry that had been mined for gold. The old equipment was still there and there were mountains of rocks everywhere. The kids spent the next few hours learning how to identify the 3 major types of rocks (igneous, sedimentary & metamorphic). They broke open rocks to see the minerals inside and did a fun charades game that identified all the different minerals used to make up everyday things, like pencils or dirt. Neat. After that rather long day, they had some flex time in their bunks, then dinner (Taco Night). Ted had 5 corn tacos with cheese. After dinner the KSS teachers did some skits and songs and then the Horizons teachers met with their classes privately for some really special bonding time. They did "hopes and dreams for the future" and fun "space rocks" (i.e. wintegreen lifesavers - they spark in your mouth when you bite them. She totally had the 2nd grade boys believing they were rocks from space!) The hopes and dreams was really sweet. There was the typical "I want lots of Legos for my birthday and candy for Halloween" from the younger kids, but some of the girls had really sweet ones about hoping the 2nd graders enjoy their time here and that they have a great year together as a class - really sweet. I would have preferred that Ted's be on the light side like some of his friends; his first wish was "I hope my mama stays healthy" (I can only imagine he's taking in some of what is going on with his lovely Aunt Nancy) and his second was "I hope Mae stops crying all the time." Sweetheart. That night everyone went to sleep right away, and with the exception of 2 pukers (too many tacos, we think), the girls were great. The next morning they cleaned the dorm, had breakfast (French toast), packed up their lunches (just cheese and pickles on the sandwich this time) and went to the morning program, which involved the groups putting on an act of a play that showed the development of the Rocky Mountains. Very cool! They spent the morning working on the play, performed the play, ate lunch while watching the (totally awesome) slideshow, and then lugged their gear back to the cars and got on their buses. Lisa and I relished the silence, and the Starbucks, and brought the gear back to the school and waited around for them to be dismissed about an hour later.
That night I had rehearsal in Denver for Rosh Hashanah and it was a long rehearsal, full of sound checks and beeps. Friday night was the first service and I have to say, the choir sang beautifully. Really a tight group - and for mostly volunteers, it's a pretty incredible sound. I spent the night at Randi's (a fellow choir member with a very sweet dog!) and we headed back Saturday morning for 2 long services. The choir again sang well and the sermons were very good too. I drove home that afternoon (the kids were at services, then chavurah, then Ted's 1st soccer game of the season), took a nap and enjoyed the evening with the family.
Sunday morning I headed out to run my first ever half marathon - 13.1 miles. It was beautiful. The dirt roads were kind to my knees, the wind was refreshing and the hills gentle and rolling. They did run out of water and it was very hot, but I made do with Gaterade and stayed cool enough. Results aren't up yet, but according to my watch, I made it in 2:20, a very respectable time for me. I ran the first mile at 11 minutes on purpose, to keep myself from going out too fast. For the next 11 miles, I ran 10 minute miles pretty regularly. Then that last mile + 0.1 seemed to drag on forever! It will be fun to see the results, but all in all, a lovely experience and I definitely want to do it again next year. I'll bring my own water and GU just in case next year, but I think the heat really surprised them this year (one year it snowed!) I took a lovely nap on Sunday as well and then the boys had Monday off from school. We hung out at home, took Ole to a dog park, and generally chilled out before picking up Mae, closing on the basement repair work, swim lessons and TKD.
This week begins school in earnest. The first few weeks of school, according to the newsletters, are all about community and getting to know each other. This week, they begin their reading groups, writing groups, math intensives and Ted will begin his bi-weekly private tutoring. I am so excited for him this year. He will have so much support that I just know he'll do OK! And Sam is fine ... he loves kindergarten and is sad when there isn't school. Cutie. He is still being quiet and hasn't identified any actual friends yet, but he's always a bit slow to warm up to new friends. I'm glad he's so happy to be there, and his reading is coming along too! At night, Ted reads to me for 20 minutes and Sam reads to Paul - usually one or two of the Bob books. He's so proud of himself! He's very good at sounding words out so he'll take off soon! Mae is settling in to going every day. She has a hard time with the transition of pick up but does love being at school and is a very prolific artist! She is learning her letters very quickly too and loves to write words if I tell her the letters. She and Sam are looking very good in swimming (I think Sam will move up to Level 5 soon) and all in all, the kids are happy and "seem" to be stress- free.
That is the big news! I'll see if I can come up with some pictures (Ted had a camera at OE which came back full of pictures of his nose or eyelashes...). We'll be laying low this week, gearing up for Sam's birthday party on Saturday, Ted's soccer game and Sunday-Monday Yom Kipper services.