5 Ways to Celebrate going back to School

It’s not easy going back to school after a fun-filled summer. I remember from when I was a kid, but more, I see it every morning during these last few weeks as I try and drag my kids out of bed, into clothes, and to the bus. Here are a few ideas of how to make this transition time less miserable…maybe even fun!

  1. Remind your kids that they still have the weekends. Have them look forward to Saturdays and Sundays by having them help you plan little day trips. (Last week we went to Six Flags Over Georgia!
  2. On a particularly difficult morning, set out an ice cream sundae buffet on the kitchen table. Make it healthy with frozen yogurt, fruit toppings, and granola! (We did this on the first day of school, but it’s also great if a birthday fall out midweek.)
  3. “Forget” to pack your kids lunch and then swing by school later with fresh slices of pizza.
  4. The day doesn’t have to end at 2:30 when school is out—bring you kids (and even a few friends) to the mall for a few hours and let them roam around like they did in the summer. (Cumberland Mall and Lenox Square Mall (both in Atlanta) are great for roaming.)
  5. Help your kid’s class organize field trips, like to the local zoo or aquarium. Volunteer to chaperone if that will help the cause. (I’ve already volunteered for Zoo Atlanta and the Georgia Aquarium—must start saving up my lunch hours…no one said back to school was easy for mom!)

And for mom—take advantage of the fact that your kids are going to bed a little earlier and take a bubble bath or catch up on your reading. Or, go to sleep early yourself!
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Real Men go to Spas

There is nothing unmanly about relaxation. Some guys play video games, some guys work out, and some guys go to spas. When I leave a spa, either after a simple shiatsu massage or after a full day go at skin care and specific body work, I feel so relaxed and distressed that I feel the effects of it for weeks afterwards. According to Men’s Health magazine, “Any vacation is a good vacation. But the best ones can calm your mind, refresh your body, revive your relationships, and maybe even extend your life.” I couldn’t agree more. And it’s a great way to meet chicks…or make one very happy if you’ve already got one. It’s a romantic valentine’s gift or anniversary idea. Or, more likely (for me at least) a way I can get out of the city (or feel like I’ve left the city) and completely relax and take care of my body. A lot of spas have fitness centers on their premises, so you really get to feel like you’re working towards a healthier existence.

Here are some great spas that offer spa treatments for men—sports massages, facials, back skin care, and male manicures and pedicures, among others.

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New York City Field Trips

The school year has finally begun and with it, curriculum finalizations and field trip bookings. Teaching in New York City should be every teacher’s dream—while one does need to be careful about crowds, the field trip possibilities are truly endless and the entire city becomes an extended classroom.

So for all you teachers out there (or just if you’re visiting NYC with kids), here is a list of great field trip locations in New York City:

Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I think parents are excited when they’re kids end up in my class because they know it’ll be a year on the go, both because of the “simulated U.S. travel itinerary” and the actual New York City traveling that goes on during the year. Looking forward to another great school year!
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A Kid’s Guide to L.A.

It’s been a while since I’ve put in my two cents on the California scene, and when my sister and her two little kids came for a visit, it inspired me to do a little research. So here’s a list of fun activities for kids in the Los Angeles area. Some are more obvious and some are a bit more obscure. Feel free to add to the list!

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San Francisco

I can’t believe our family trip has already come and gone so quickly! I don’t think I have ever had such a jam packed vacation. Usually we’ll go somewhere A LOT smaller and spend most of the time on the beach or hiking, with a museum or theme park thrown in for kicks. This time, we spent the entire time on the go. it was exhausting, to say the least, but fun. The kids had a great time and I really felt like they deserved it after a difficult year, moving and all.

We did the things that were on my list: Basic Brown Bear Factory (loved it!), the Wax Museum at Fisherman’s Wharf (helloooo Elvis!), and Alcatraz Island (Julia threw up on the ferry, but otherwise, fun!). We also went to Pier 39, at Fisherman’s Wharf where we bought tons of junk and saw sea lions (which Justin loved).

Other big hits were the Exploratorium which was fantastic, the de Young Museum which I loved, but mainly because it was just me and my dad. My mom took the kids to the Golden Gate Park. One day we went to the Ghirardelli store and then rented bikes and rode across the Golden Gate Bridge into Sausalito. Had lunch, and ferried back (Julia was fine that time). That was probably the best day.

We spent a day on Baker Beach only having to shield the kids’ eyes a few times. (NOTE: if you want to stick near clothed (at least minimally) beach goers, stay away from the northern section of the beach). We went to Oakland Zoo, Children’s Fairyland (cute), the Chabot Space & Science Center, and Waterworld Park.

And more! It was definitely our best trip. I only got into a few fights with my parents (which is NOTHING) and the kids got to see their cousin and my brother is doing great. it was such a relief to have things out of my hands, the planning, the paying, the transportation. And the best part…is that it’s nice to be home!
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Five Days of Disney

Seth Stevenson asks a shrewd question in Slate: Why would anyone want to go to Disney World every year? And as an elementary school teacher who sees the same kids go to Disney World year after year after year, I’m curious to know his answer.

Stevenson explains that Mr. Walt Disney did not just create a company and open a few theme parks, but created a Disney ideology—he calls it Disneyism. Walt Disney’s career arc is comparable maybe to L. Ron Hubbard of Scientology fame, who also grew up in middle America and exploded into the mass-market. The “Disney-as-religion”, as Stevenson calls it, is indoctrinated into Disney visitors from the overabundance of souvenirs available to the five weddings a day that take place at the iconical Disney castle. Utopianism spills out of Disney’s ears and captures children and parents, convincing them that because things are so cheery, they must be doing something good.

I think Stevenson’s point (I didn’t get through the treatise he wrote on the subject) is that people flock to the Disney Empire because the Walt Disney Co. has done a fantastic job transforming the ordinary into the magical. The movie rides at MGM Studios are larger than life; the innovations at Epcot are sensational.

I’ve never been to Disney World, and if all Mr. Stevenson says is true, and all that my hundreds of students say is true, Disney World probably is just a bit as magical as it seems. I will probably take our kids there when they are at an age where they’ll love it and remember it. But only once. I certainly don’t need my (future) intelligent, creative children being sucked into believing that it’s an every summer sort of trip. And besides for the fact that I think my wife and I would go crazy, I think about all the other places that I want our (again, future) kids to experience, like the Grand Canyon or Niagara Falls.

The Disney empire in the U.S. includes:

Business trip to Austin, Texas

I’m in Austin, Texas for five days, spending three nights at the Hilton near the Austin Convention Center, and two nights at the Lake Austin Spa Resort, which I am really looking forward to (last two nights). As you know by now, I don’t ever plan a business trip without a significant pleasure portion. I’ll really be busy this trip (not like my last trip to Jackson, Wyoming where I spent most of time out on the green), but of course have scheduled some time at the Barton Creek – Crenshaw Cliffside Course, which, coincidentally, I just wrote about in 10 Great Places to go for the Green, so that’s certainly a highlight.

Here are my goals for the week: Get work done, golf, eat some good BBQ and Mexican food, and get a few massages. That shouldn’t be too hard. One of my coworkers suggested the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum—does anyone know if that’s worth going to?
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