Per tradition, I captured the girls’ thoughts on school the night before their first day. As you’ll see, Avery was excited but also a bit unhappy that her friend Liza wasn’t in her class this year. Turns out she shouldn’t have worried about not seeing Liza (shown to the left in the photo below): During these first few days, Avery has gotten to spend time with her friend before and after school and at recess.
As for Avery’s post-first-day thoughts, she said that the day “flew by.” And she informed me last night: “Second grade is so much fun.” (Music to my ears.)
This summer went faster than any ones in recent memory; the girls are back to school tomorrow. Given where they spent their last week of break I thought this was an appropriate spot for one last summer pic.
The girls spent their last week of summer at zoo camp, where they – yet again – came up close and personal with a variety of animals. Among those that Avery got to meet: Grace the Virginia opossum and (even better!) Cynthia the koala.
The girls (and Q!) have been asking for a dog for some time now. In an effort to convince me why we need one, Avery told me the other night, “A dog would take away some of your chores. You know how we vacuum when there are things on the floor? He could just vacuum with his tongue!”
When the temperatures dip low in the summer here, we like to head north, east or south on the weekends. Larkspur, a little town in Marin County, was our recent destination; there, the girls played around and soaked up the sun.
For the past week, we’ve been turtle-sitting Yertle, one of the second-grade classroom’s pet. Avery was pretty small the first time we took care of him, but she’s older and more into him now; here was the scene in the girls’ bedroom the other night…
Zoe, as most people know, is a huge Harry Potter fan. So she was quite excited about the recent release of the new Harry Potter book, and more excited about a release party being held at our local bookstore that day. We met up with friends and goofed around there, and the next day she dove into the book.
And her assessment of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which she said wasn’t quite what she expected? “I like it, just not as much as the other ones.”
The girls got right back in the swing of our summer routine by returning to zoo camp after our trip. They do fewer projects and artwork at this camp than at some others, but they clearly don’t mind. As Zoe told me in a serious tone one day, “We don’t bring home bags full of stuff from camp; what we bring home is knowledge…”
I shared a lot of photos of our trip, but now it’s time to rewind and cover some of the things we’ve done since our return. One of the highlights was my birthday, which was two days after we got home. It wasn’t ideal timing – I was still jet lagged and recovering from a stomach bug, but Q and the girls had several things planned. The family surprised me with some morning birthday cake and a spa set-up downstairs; Zoe’s massage relaxed me so much that I wind up taking a two-hour nap. Then we headed south for a little break from the city: We stopped in Pacifica at a coffee place I’ve always wanted to try and strolled along an ocean pier before the girls treated me to a birthday cupcake at one of our favorite cafes in the little beach town of Montara. It wasn’t much warmer there than it was in San Francisco, but we still had a sweet afternoon.
I can’t write about our travels without mentioning how proud I was of the girls. They took 9 flights in 17 days (including one overnight flight and two that left when they should have been sleeping), dealt with two major delays (one going to Madison, the other leaving Madison), and managed four different time changes with nary a complaint. Though I was a bit concerned before we left about how they would handle all the travel and possible sleep deprivation, it was never a problem. In fact, I was the only one to ever stress out (though, to be fair, that too happened less than I expected) – with Zoe telling her sister in the airport at one point, “Avery, remember we need to stay calm. Daddy told us to stay calm in case Mommy gets upset.”
Sleep, too, wasn’t really an issue. Zoe woke up in the middle of the night a few times in Tel Aviv, but neither kid experienced the major jet lag I had worried about. Plus, they were so exhausted from all the travel that they immediately passed out on a few of our plane rides (I have a sweet memory of their little heads on my lap during our 12:30 AM flight to Madison) and – as you’ll see below – some car rides.
On Paris-Tel Aviv flight:
At Tel Aviv airport, waiting for flight to Rome (at 4 AM):
On Rome-Washington DC flight:
In car ride from Dulles, on way to Safta and Pop Pop’s:
We said good-bye to Q’s parents on a Tuesday morning – after our traditional breakfast of coffee and pastries with them, the four of us hopped on a bus and headed across the city to the Colosseum (see photos 1-3). We had already seen the outside but we got tickets to get a closer look at the inside; after exploring for as long as we could stand in the heat, we headed over to Vatican City. One could easily spend days there, given all there is to see and do, but we decided to see just a small (but significant) piece by visiting the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel (see photos 4-6). The walk through all the rooms was somewhat overwhelming (I feel like I didn’t truly appreciate what I was seeing – just because there was so much, and I was so tired from all the walking), but sitting in the Sistine Chapel, which was smaller than I thought it would be, and simply looking up was pretty amazing.
After a quick rest at our apartment in the late afternoon, we rallied and did one more run around our little neighborhood – shopping, snacking on pizza, visiting the Trevi Fountain one last time, and getting more gelato. I won’t soon forget our last hours there: the second-to-last photo perfectly captures how happy we were.
We had no agenda except for wandering and exploring on our second day in Rome. We started with pastries and coffee at a cafe near our place and then took to foot to do more exploring. We saw a lot more than I can recall or record here, but some of the highlights were the Piazza Colonna (with its large Column of Marcus Aurelius – see photo 2), the Sant’Ignazio Church (see photos 3 and 4), the Pantheon (see photos 5 and 6), the Santa Maria sopra Minerva (the church that houses Michaelango’s Christ statue – see Zoe sitting outside in photo 7) and the Palazzo Farnese (which featured a large bathtub-shaped statue – see last photo). And, of course, we built in stops for gelato!