It’s back to school for us this week and this year I will have three of my four kids in school all day long. I’m all tangled up about it! It’s good because they love school and I’m lucky enough to have found a great school for them that I really love too. I’m excited for them to have their own adventures and experiences this year and we’re all looking forward to the many new things they will learn.
That being said, after having everyone home and all together for the past few months, the house feels so quiet and lonely without them. It’s good, but it’s still a bit sad. Yesterday I actually watched the clock waiting for the time to go pick them up so I could hear all about their first day back! They climbed into the car and the whole ride home was an explosion of conversation and laughter as everyone shared their first day of school stories, excitedly talking over each other. I grinned the whole drive home listening to them and remembering how it’s good to be apart sometimes because it makes the time we are together that much sweeter.
Overall, despite a few sad, nostalgic moments in which I wished I could keep all my babies at home forever and ever, the first day back was a success and I think we’re ready for the school year adventure ahead!
But before we said goodbye to summer and turned our attention to sharpened pencils and new notebooks, we had ourselves one last proper summer escapade.
Last year I read Daniel Kahneman’s absolutely brilliant book Thinking, Fast and Slow. One thing that has really stuck with me is his Peak-End rule, which is the psychological heuristic that says people judge their experiences based on how they were at their peak and at their end, rather than judging it by the entirety of the experience. So if an experience ends on a high point, we’ll likely think of it more positively, even if the overall experience was comprised of low and high points. Basically, all’s well that ends well.
Ever since I read about this, I’ve thought a lot about it as a parent and noticed how true it seems to be with my kids. If they’re happy at the end of the day, then they say it was a good day no matter what happened in all the hours leading up to that good ending.
The opposite is also true of course, but I’ve been doing my best to make this principle work for us as often as possible. It’s why I like to think up big happy endings to things like summer vacation – if the last day of summer is fantastic, I’m hoping the whole summer goes down as golden in their childhood memories. That’s how we found ourselves on top of a mountain at 10,378 feet above sea level on Tuesday.
On the last day of summer, the kids and I packed a light picnic and took the Sandia Peak Tramway up to the very top of the mountains that overlook Albuquerque. The kids didn’t know where we were going until we got there and the surprise was perfect!
The tram ride is amazing – an experience you should not miss if you are ever in Albuquerque! The views over the Cibola National Forest are breathtaking and I’m still marveling over the beauty of the granite cliffs and pinnacles seen from that incredible vantage point. (We shared a fun little video over on instagram that you can watch!) The kids were sufficiently awed and amazed by the entire experience.
We ate our picnic dinner, hiked around on some of the gorgeously green mountain top trails, and marveled over the view on both sides of the mountain. I timed it so that we would be on top of the mountain to watch the sun set over Albuquerque. It was magnificent and it was the most perfect way to end our summer vacation. They don’t call New Mexico “The Land of Enchantment” for nothing!
Eila would have me warn you that it did get a little bit chilly as the sun set. We retreated to the visitor’s center where we ate chocolate dipped macaroons and watched for wildlife in the twilight forest. It was an experience we’ll never forget!
Yesterday morning before heading off to school we joined Grandma and Grandpa and some family friends that were in town for a Back to School Breakfast Party. It was simple, just a few back-to-school themed table decorations and a tasty breakfast, but it helped build excitement for the big day and year ahead.
I made Molly Wizenberg’s Chocolate Banana Bread with Candied Ginger (my favorite banana bread recipe!) and then turned it into French Toast which we topped with whipped cream and real maple syrup. It wasn’t exactly a healthy breakfast but it was over the top delicious and definitely memorable. We did include some fresh fruit and green smoothies for good measure.
Do you have any Back to School Traditions? I’d love to hear about how you make it special!