Thursday, August 16, 2012

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

It's that time of year. Yesterday we packed the lunches, combed the hair, and took the obligatory first-day-of-school photos:

It's at this time, then, that I'd like to join elementary school students everywhere in the age-old tradition of the "What I Did This Summer" essay (because, if you've been following this blog, you KNOW "writing on my blog" did not make the list). Here are some things that I actually DID do this summer:

Nerdy Teaching Stuff
Kyle taught summer school, I taught summer school, and we made Daniel attend summer school. There's nothing like having two teachers as parents to doom you to the summer writing and math enrichment program.

I also taught my regular Zumba class, and a week-long Zumba camp for kids at the Y. This helped serve as a good reminder that teaching large groups of small kids should never be my full-time job.

We went on a family vacation! We've never really taken the kids anywhere other than to friends and family's houses, so this was thrilling for us.

The kids got to experience airline travel:

(See how excited they are?)

We rented a cabin in Big Sky with Kyle's mother and with Kyle's sister's family. I think it's safe to say we will probably never stay anywhere as rustically well-appointed as our cabin ever again. Everything was wood and stone, and there was a giant moose head over one of the fireplaces.

We did a little hiking:

We went to the 4th of July celebration in Big Sky. Turns out the only thing more fantastic than fireworks is fireworks over a mountain skyline:

We spent a day in Yellowstone, starting with the Bear and Wolf Discovery Center near the park entrance. We saw some bears:

There are lots of Bison in Yellowstone:

We went to Old Faithful:

Let me just pause here to point out that Old Faithful actually starts out spraying much higher than in these photos. Our children, however, were much more interested in petting the dog of the couple sitting behind us than viewing one of our nation's treasures. In fact, they had NO interest in humoring us by watching this mere 60-second spectacle. If these photos were videos with sound, you could hear me lecturing, "We brought you all this way to see this and you want to pet a DOG?! There are people here who have traveled from other CONTINENTS to see this! Some people put seeing this on their list of things to do before they DIE! You are going to stand here and get your picture taken in front of Old Faithful, and you are going to SMILE!" You might also hear my sister-in-law teasing us for actually going there with this speech.

It rained in the afternoon, but we still stopped to see some other geysers and Yellowstone's Grand Canyon:

It was pouring rain when we saw the canyon, but it really was one of my favorite parts. Of course the pictures can never do it justice, but it was amazing, and Kyle and I vowed to go back there to hike the canyon some day when the kids are a little older.

After dinner the rain cleared and we went back out. We had the Norris Geyser Basin practically to ourselves, and even though we were all soggy and tired we were so glad we stopped there. Eva said this was her favorite part, mostly because there were bear tracks everywhere. It was like being on a whole different planet:

The rest of our trip we relaxed and hung out with Kyle's extended family, many of who had rented cabins nearby. We went horseback riding and were so proud of Daniel for riding his own horse. We even saw a moose on the trail:

In the end, I'd say fun was had by all. We left reluctantly, wishing we could just move to Montana.

Ankle Sprain
Shortly after our return from Montana I sprained my ankle. How, do you ask? Was it during my high-impact exercise class with all the sideways jumping? Or on my nice long trail run through the woods, with all the tree roots and uneven terrain? Nope! Just everyday walking down two porch steps on the way out of a friend's house. I was carrying Eva at the time, and Kyle likes to point out that at least she broke my fall.

I contemplated taking some photos of my injury, as it was awesome to me in both its size and color. But then I thought about whether I'd really want to look at pictures of someone ELSE'S giant black nasty ankle and decided to pass.

It's been four weeks since I injured myself, and I'm learning that I am not super-patient when my body doesn't work the way it's supposed to. The irony is that I spent most of my life wishing and trying to become the kind of person who exercises regularly, who actually enjoys some kind of physical activity and longs to go exercise. I realize now that in the last year or so I've become that person, and so of course it's now that I would sustain one of the only major activity-limiting injuries of my life.

For the past week or so the weather has been beautiful; cool in the mornings with just a gentle breeze. I hobble around my house and gaze bitterly out the window, jealously grumbling at all my friends' facebook statuses about the great run they had today. Grrr...!!!
Melodramatic of me, eh?

Watching Swimming
One of the things about being married to Kyle is that the only sport he's really interested in watching (or DOING, really) is swimming. And I have to admit that during our engagement and the first year of our marriage, I came to really enjoy watching Kyle's swim meets, and swimming in general. It's difficult to find televised swimming any time other than during the Olympics, though, so every four years we have a swimming binge. It's really been wonderful to watch Michael Phelps the past few Olympics, and I hope the US will continue to dominate in the pool even after his retirement.

This year, however, my favorite moment was watching Chad Le Clos of South Africa BEAT Michael Phelps. If you didn't see that finish, you really must watch it. He started crying almost the moment he realized he'd won, and continued weeping through interviews and most of the medal ceremony. The camera flashed to his parents in the stands, and both of them were crying like babies (as I'm sure we would be if Daniel had beaten Michael Phelps). There's even a shot where you can see Mr. Le Clos wipe his eyes on the South African flag. The BBC got such a kick out of the dad that they had an interview with him. There's just something endearing about a family that is so totally and adorably excited about winning:

At the same time, our kids were participating in their annual month of swim lessons, and making great progress. Daniel started to learn the front crawl and backstroke, and even got into doing a kind of mangled version of a cannonball off the diving board:

By the end of the summer, Eva was willing to swim in the deep end, though she continues to insist that the diving board, "is really more for 5-year-olds." She has a wicked back float, though:

Maybe the Sterup genes will pull through and produce another swimmer in this family. I'll wait to work on my Olympic television composure until we're a little more sure...

And that's what we've been up to. In some ways the heat made it seem like the summer would never end. In other ways, though, the time just flew by. I think the kids were ready to get back to school, and even though it means Kyle and I have to actually attend jobs on a daily basis, the school year does provide us (or at least me) with some much-needed structure.

So for now... Onward into fall adventures!