Summer Trip is announced!

Two or three times a year, my parents take me and the kids on a fantastic vacation, all expenses paid. I have a brother and sister-in-law and a niece who either get their own vacation with mom and dad or join us. This year it’ll be the whole family. Obviously we all get input into the destination, but m&d get the final say. And this year, we’ll all be going to…SAN FRANCISCO!

I am really excited. I have never been to San Fran and have always wanted to. Sometimes the trips are small, like 2-3 nights in the mountains nearby, but it seems like this is going to be a biggie. We’ll be going for 8 days and they already have quite an itinerary.

Here are the definites, and of course, if anyone has any MUST DO’S, please let me know so I can pass on the advice to my parents:

  1. Basic Brown Bear Factory – This will obviously be a winner with the kids, but I’ve always loved factory tours, so I’m looking forward to this as well. And my mother actually collects teddy bears, so that’s probably the real reason why we’re going.
  2. Wax Museum at Fisherman’s Wharf – None of us (except my sister-in-law) have ever been to a wax museum. I, of course, am most looking forward to Elvis Presley. Alexandra says she can’t wait to see Leonardo DiCaprio – how does she even know who that is?
  3. Alcatraz Island – This one is really my dad’s top choice, so he says “it ain’t gettin’ moved off any list.” So here ya go, dad.

It’s a small list so far, but they only just decided on a location this morning and we don’t leave till mid-July. So we’ve got plenty of time. I only wanted to share because I was so excited about the announcement and I have friends who keep asking where we’re going this summer!

Anyways, as always, please feel free to offer advice! Like what are the best beaches? Is it worth it to go to the zoo up there (Oakland Zoo or the San Francisco Zoological Gardens) if we have such a good zoo (Zoo Atlanta) right near our new home?

Thanks for your help!


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Tampa and Tampax

Uh-oh. That’s all I was thinking when Katie pulled a tampon from my purse yesterday and asked if it was a souvenir from our recent trip. I immediately saw the confusion and got all flustered myself in trying to answer. She already “kinda” knew what it was, so the explanation wasn’t too painful. And first I made her run and get Alison, just to save me from going through the same thing twice. And now, I think forever Katie and Ali will associate Tampa, Florida with menstruation.

Wow, it’s amazing how time flies here on this blog. I felt like I just updated our travel plans the other day, and before I know it, weeks have passed! We’ve already gone to and returned from Tampa and St. Petersburg and did everything that we had planned on our itinerary (plus more).

A few highlights: The Lowry Park Zoological Society of Tampa was fantastic. We took a jeep ride and saw animals I’ve never seen before—kookaburra, manatees, and komodo dragons. The girls had a blast in “The Billabong” water area. This hadn’t even been on our itinerary, but we stumbled upon and were thrilled.

Another surprisingly good afternoon was spent at the University Mall in Tampa. In a way it’s a typical mall with anchor stores and other popular stores; and in a way it’s like a big flea market. We spent hours rummaging through locally owned shops, stopped for some snacks in the food court, and then saw a movie. We had spent the morning at St. Pete Beach and wanted to do something low key on our way back to the hotel, and University Mall hit the spot.

I wonder where we’ll be off to next….


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Interesting Educators’ Programs

I just came across a fascinating blog filled with information for teachers, and since I now am a teacher (homeschool), I found it extremely enlightening. The only thing is that I read it a little too late…

The National Endowment for the Humanities has summer workshops for teachers (including homeschool teachers) on Landmarks of American History and Culture, but the deadline for signing up was March 17! I’m bookmarking the site for next year.

Each week-long workshop explores a landmark of American history that teachers are then meant to “bring back” to their classrooms for further exploration. Ah—I’m really frustrated that I missed it! There’s a course on The Blue Ridge Parkway that I would love to take, and one on Mount Vernon, that I could probably give! There are also some more literary/historical workshops, like the one on Zora Neale Hurston and Eatonville and one on Eudora Welty. The one on Ellis Island looks particularly interesting.

The author of that teacher blog says that he went to Lowell two summers ago and since that one is offered again this year, I imagine there’s a chance that these workshops will also be repeated either next summer or the one following.

Something else mentioned of interest in the teacher blog is the National Park Service’s Teacher Ranger program. It looks as though it’s just for public school teachers, particularly those teaching in under-served districts. The program trains teachers as rangers during as 8-10 week program and provides teachers with the tools and knowledge they need to “bring national parks into the classroom throughout the school year.” Involved in the program are Acadia National Park in Maine, Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site in Colorado, Capulin Volcano National Monument in New Mexico, Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, and Chaco Culture National Historical Park in New Mexico.

I know that program’s not for me, but just thought I’d mention it while I’m on my National Park kick, and maybe you know someone who may appreciate it!

Meanwhile, thank you Jonathan (jd2718) for your post!

Top Ten Children’s Museums

I was so happy to find Port Discovery on parents.com 10 Best Children’s Museums. I brought the girls there a few days ago and was really impressed. There is a exhibit on water going on now called the Wonders of Water that fit in perfectly with the science unit we were working on and even though it was geared toward children younger than the girls, they were very proud (as was I!) going around to each part of the exhibit saying “we know this” and “we learnt that” over and over again. 🙂

Since we do so much traveling, I figure it would be good to hold onto this list in case we’re in any of these cities before the girls outgrow children’s museums. Thought I’d share it with the group —

  1. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
  2. The Children’s Museum of Houston
  3. The Children’s Museum, Boston
  4. (tie) Port Discovery, Baltimore
  5. (tie) Discovery Center, Rockford, IL
  6. Brooklyn Children’s Museum – We’ve actually been to this one and love it!
  7. Strong Museum, Rochester, NY – And we’ve been here, though honestly, I don’t really remember much about it.
  8. Minnesota Children’s Museum, St. Paul
  9. Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose
  10. Madison Children’s Museum, WI

Does anyone recommend otherwise ?