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Monday, May 7, 2012

On Retreat

This past weekend, S and I and the kids went on retreat! It was part of the staff formation activties for S's campus community, something that happens in various forms every year. This year, they decided to rent a house up in Mill Valley and do an overnight. We thought the kids were old enough (finally!) to come along for something like this -- and we were, pleasantly, correct!

It was the first time the kids had been over the Golden Gate bridge. They were suitably impressed.

 On our way to the house, we stopped in the Mt. Tamalpais State Park to enjoy the scenery and to do some hiking. It was an absolutely gorgeous day for it, too!
What a view! That's San Francisco behind and below us.

Hanging out, waiting for the hike to start

On the way up the trail!
 The trip organizer had planned out a very easy hike on a paved loop -- but the group ended up heading up and up and up on a different trail. It was a beautiful, fun hike which I would have greatly enjoyed if it weren't for the fact that it got my lower back acting up again... alas. But we survived. Made it all the way to the top of the Fire Lookout.

2571 feet up!

Perched with Dad on the side of the Fire Lookout
The kids were especially proud that they'd made it all the way up there. (Of course they also insisted on scrambling about at the base of the station, which made me more than a bit nervous because I couldn't really follow them all that well with my back starting to act up and knowing I still had to hike back down! But S was up for the challenge of following them about. Thank goodness! Tag-team parenting at its best.) They did so well with the hike that I'm really looking forward to the next one. I certainly wouldn't have planned to take them on such an ambitious trail, but once my back is strong again we should definitely explore more some of our local hiking options.

Here we are back at the bottom of the trail. BJ caught a lizard while we waited for S and BB to catch up. He was pretty thrilled! (And I was amazed the little guy hung around on his hand long enough for me to snap a pic!)

When we got to the rental house, it was nice to take a little break and enjoy the surroundings.
View from the upper deck -- pool on the deck below, and trampoline at the bottom!
I did NOT like the trampoline... no net, exposed springs, shudder... Lots of mom worries there. But I insisted on just one kid at a time, and everything was fine. The house was very pretty, very large, and full of interesting stuff. Perhaps the oddest thing there was this taxidermied goat, which puzzled the kids somewhat. (Was it real? Was it alive? The students on the trip kept trying to convince BB that it was just reeeeally good at sitting still. Pretty funny.)


Sweet moment of the trip award: BB decided she would "study" the plants growing all around the house. She explored all the decks, making sketches of the leaves in her notebook, tracing the leaves, and recording her "observations." Too stinkin' cute.

 Both kids were enchanted with N, the 10 month old baby of S's colleague. He is such a sweet, happy baby. And it was nice that my kids weren't the only munchkins around.
The student leaders who were there for staff formation were very sweet about our kids being part of things.  We all played Apples to Apples Junior (and BJ only had one moment of bad sportsmanship; BB was partnered with C, who happened to also be one of the teachers from her preschool -- this helped enormously) and let the kids stay up later than their usual bedtime. We'd hoped to see the supermoon, but by the time it rose above the mountains and trees, it looked like a normal, though lovely, full moon.

None of us got as much sleep as we should, and we were exhausted by the time we got back home, but all told it was a really nice weekend and well worth the effort involved. Felt like a validation that we were doing good things as parents to see our kids do so well in a new situation like this. And the kids are already asking about next year!

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