A Back-to-School Tradition

It’s that time of year – back-to-school season! Remember when the sales on school supplies started at the end of August and we school started after Labor Day? Well, gone are those days!

Our family is not particularly great at keeping traditions, but we great at eating ice cream, so I guess having a “surprise” back-to-school lunch at the Ice Creamery Sunday after church the week school starts is a good tradition. In the past, we’ve driven past our house and the girls ask where we’re going. This is the first year in six years that Melody remembered that we do this every year. :p

Ignore that I (Joyce) have a very limited wardrobe selection and that we are slightly in a state of frazzledness/dishelvedness…certain Sundays are full for us.

2017 – Fifth and Third Grade


2016 – Fourth and Second Grade


2015 – Third and First Grade


2014 – Second Grade and Kindergarten


2013 – First Grade and Pre-K


2012 – Kindergarten and Preschool

We never remember to take those first and last day of school photos so this will have to do. 🙂 They aren’t always the most framable photos (and besides our wedding, we actually never had professional photos taken) but we love having these moments captured.

Does your family have back-to-school traditions?


Books for Young Readers

*Note: This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.


Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Here’s a look at some new resources from Zondervan this month for your family:

*The Bedtime Book

Sometimes I can’t sleep, so I have different sleeping strategies. One time I DID try counting sheep, all the way to 500! I was, of course, tired, because it was late. It definitely took me a long time! So whenever I can’t fall asleep now, I’ll think about this book and how the pig counted sheep…and fish…and dinosaurs!

I would recommend this book to kids who maybe are scared of not sleeping, and the dark. Hint: Me! – Melody (age 10)

You know I LOVE a book with raps…er…rhymes! Our favorite time of day with the girls, especially when they were babies, was bedtime (not just because we were going to get a little break from diaper-changing and such) because it was fun reading a book with them before they head off to sleep. Sometimes it was a few board books and other times they wanted to read the same book over and over again. The Bedtime Book is perfect for a simple story before your kiddo heads to dreamland. There are some cute rhymes in this one. – Joyce (mom)

Get your own copy *HERE.


*5-Minute Adventure Bible Stories 

I like when Moses put his staff in the water.

They’re not super long so they’re good for bedtime stories.

I would recommend this to everybody. – Emily (age 8)

I like this book because it makes me think about the Bible in a different perspective. I also learned new things “It probably took eight to twelve HOURS for the waters to part.

I would recommend this to everybody. – Melody (age 10)

As you can see in the picture below, two words I like are together in this 5-Minute Adventure Bible Stories book! Adventure + Discovery!! You’re sure to learn something new in this book as you read with your little one. – Joyce (mom)
Get your own copy *HERE.


The Bedtime Book – Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Christianbook | goodreads | BookLook Bloggers
5-Minute Adventure Bible Stories – Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Christianbook | goodreads
 | BookLook Bloggers

*Note: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a tiny percentage if you make a purchase through my link at no extra cost to you. We received one or more items for review. Read my disclosure policy here.

Books for Young Readers [June 2017}

*Note: This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.


Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Here’s a look at some new resources from Zondervan this month for your family:

*The Berenstain Bears Bless Our Gramps and Gran

This book is about grandparents. My favorite part is the pictures of Noah with his family in their big family tree. I like spending time with my grandparents and hugging them.  I recommend this to everybody. – Emily (age 8)

This book is a story of Grandparents Day and the bear cubs share their favorite things to do with Gramps and Gran. On the inside of the back cover, there are some ideas on how to celebrate the day. – Mom Joyce

Get your own copy *HERE.


*NIV Kids’ Visual Study Bible, Hardcover, Full Color Interior: Explore the Story of the Bible 

When I saw this Bible and opened it, I was excited. This Bible really takes you back to when the Bible was written. I like the pictures and the references to where the verses are in the Bible. Another thing that I like about the Bible is that it has pictures of the things to help you visualize it. Let’s say, for instance, ornaments – you will see a bunch of gold necklaces. I thought it was really cool to explore the Bible in this way, to peek into Jesus’ world, and to dive in to discover what life really was back when Jesus and his followers were alive. – Melody (age 10)

Get your own copy *HERE.

*Run with Me: The Story of a U.S. Olympic Champion

We love a good Olympic story and this is a great one! One of our favorites to watch during the Olympics is Track and Field so we were excited for a chance to read Run with Me. Now, if you have been around awhile you know I am not a runner. It’s not one of those things where I shouldn’t say that because everyone can be a runner and such. I mean, I have bad knees and I’d much rather have my legs when I’m old than call myself a runner. So, therefore, I walk…we walk…we walk around the neighborhood, we walk around the town, we walk down at the marina, we walk at the park, we walk at the mall, we can walk for days, but running, not so much…BUT I love a good track story because everyone I know runs..they run on the treadmill, they run a 5k, 10k, half marathon, marathon, run for fun, run for charity, run through colors, run through bubbles, run through mud, all kinds of running stuff. And I cheer them on.  Anyhow, none of that has to do with the book, except that we really enjoyed watching Sanya run in the Olympics. It is so incredible what the human body can do. I love the stories that Sanya shares in the book. They are very detailed and helps me connect more to her story and life in Jamaica. She tells about the lessons she has learned from her coaches, parents, sister, and God. – Mom Joyce

Get your own copy *HERE.


The Berenstain Bears Bless Our Gramps and Gran  – (coming soon) Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Christianbook | goodreads | BookLook Bloggers
– NIV Kids’ Visual Study Bible – Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Christianbook | goodreads
 | BookLook Bloggers
Run with Me: The Story of a U.S. Olympic ChampionAmazon | Barnes and Noble | Christianbook | goodreads | BookLook Bloggers

*Note: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a tiny percentage if you make a purchase through my link at no extra cost to you. We received one or more items for review. Read my disclosure policy here.

San Leandro Public Library [Library Tour]

The next stop on our Library Tour Summer Series is the San Leandro Public Library. (This post is by Melody with italicized comments from Mom.)

I’ve had a lot of great memories at this library. When I was little, even though my parents worked a lot, my mom rarely missed bringing the four of us kiddos to the library on Saturdays to check out our books before going grocery shopping.

When you enter the library, there’s a sign that says, “Public Library” and a gift shop/cafe (aka Bookmark Cafe) on the right side. (Shown above. It’s the little area sticking out behind the bike racks.) On the left corner, there is a Friends of the Library bookstore. On the left side, there is a hallway that leads to a theater and some meeting rooms(?). On the left near the entrance, there is a police department office.

One of our favorite things at this library is the chair with the mom and her two kids. The mom is reading a book. I wonder what book it is? (I’m not sure the stories behind these statues, but we see them at all the libraries, and hopefully, I can do some “then and now” photos of the girls with them through the years.)

There are tables at the library as well as chairs. It’s a great place to study!

We saw this electronic sign flashing different events.

After we saw the sign, we walked up to the second floor.

At the library is a map of San Leandro. One time we saw one of Castro Valley and we tried to see where we lived.

These are some clocks showing the time in all different parts of the world.

I’m not sure if I ever saw this part before because we don’t usually go to the second floor, but there’s a lot of chairs and tables. Perfect for reading! Or studying!

Here is another view from the second floor.

We saw another sculpture that we hadn’t seen before, which is a girl reading to a boy.

Another view from the second floor of the library.

One of the library’s rooms is the History Room.

Be sure to follow these rules if you’re there! I think they’re good rules for a library.

San Leandro Marina Park [Parks + Playgrounds]

Next in our Parks + Playgrounds Summer Series is San Leandro Marina Park.

This is not a complete recap of our time at the San Leandro Marina Park. We were meeting friends at the playground after we took our walk around the loop/Faro Point, but I miscommunicated our exact location since there are two playground areas. And then, since I handed Melody the phone to message our friends while I was driving across to the other playground, she left the phone in the car, so I only had photos from our walk.

One-Mile Loop / Faro Point

One of our favorite parts of this park is this loop that stretches out into the Bay. It is a one-mile loop with stations for your workout, like jumping jacks, sit-up bench thingie (not the technical term), balance beam, jump-over bars (also not the technical term), pull-up rings, and more! Here we are at the starting line. I feel like they need to add some encouraging words on the ground where they mark every quarter-mile. It is always pretty breezy so hold on to your hats and wear layers!!! There have been many morning walks here where my face would be feeling the heat, but that Bay breeze starts you off with a chill.

On this particular day, there were a bunch of seagulls. I have never seen this many in this area before. We had to dodge a few of them. Yikes!

Emily likes to scooter so there were times when she just went on ahead.

Seeing all the planes fly in to land at OAK is another favorite thing about SL Marina!

Here we are coming to the final stretch of the one-mile loop!

….but then we continue on because we are following a walking program on my health phone app and was trying to walk 1.45 miles. After you walk past the 1.0-mile marker, you can keep walking forward and to your right, there is another path. I mostly see bicyclists go in this direction, but there is also a nice size dog park. I’m not familiar with dog parks but it looks like there is a plenty of space to run around.

Play Areas + Picnic Areas

So besides Faro Point, you also have the actual park areas. The play area closest to the loop is for older kiddos. Between the two area is PLENTY of grassy areas for picnicking and running. There is also a volleyball area with sand. The last time I looked, there was a net, but I can’t remember if it is always there.

At the other end (where you most likely will drive in from), there is a playground structure for younger kiddos. There is a path that goes around the play area for any kiddos who want to scooter or bike around. There are two small water-spraying statues that kiddos can/will climb when the water is or is not spraying. There are restrooms close by but they are not the best, but I’m never about any public restroom anyway. :/ FYI: The toilet paper is the super duper thin kind where you can only really pull out one “square” at a time or just go really slowly, and there is only a hand-dryer blower thing. Bring your own tissues and/or toilet paper if you think you may need some for your kiddos.

You can reserve the picnic areas and they have really nice new-ish grills available. There is not much shade where the play areas are strangely and unfortunately, but there are LOTS of big trees across the border of the grassy field as well as some of the picnic areas.

We’ll most likely be back, so maybe more photos will be added!! 🙂

Website | Yelp 1 | Yelp 2 | TripAdvisor | Great Kids Park

We have seen some amazing parks and playgrounds and would like to visit them all, but since we don’t really have time to do that, please share your pics with us! And we’ll be updating with pics from our mini-adventures!

What are your family’s favorite activities at the park or playground? Swings, carousel, rock wall, train ride, tube slide, bridge?

Pleasanton Public Library [Library Tour]

Pleasanton Public Library was the second library in our Library Tour Summer Series.

The front of the library had statues. The first one we thought was cool – a girl reading.

The second statue/s we saw was of a girl reading, too. I’m assuming it’s her brother she’s reading to. That reminds me of me reading to my little sister.

The last statue was kind of abstract – books stacked on top of each other.

This is the front of the Pleasanton Public Library. If you go there, please keep in mind: it’s not part of the Alameda County Library branches, so if you have a library card for those, you can’t check out anything from this one. (Or return, either!)

They’re planning to redo the entire downtown area which is where the library is. We saw some murals there just like in the Hayward downtown. Oh, and in the future downtown, there’s going to be a meadow! I’m excited!

Model of the future downtown – community center, City Hall, etc.

One of my favorite things about this library was that it had a whole entire wall dedicated to your finding a book! Located in the children’s section, the brochures are sure to keep you reading. (I took 2 home!)

There was a mural in the library. I love how it says “Track 9 3/4!”

There are baskets if you don’t have a library bag or forgot to bring yours!

On our way out we saw a seating area. I thought this was perfect for sitting to eat your lunch.

Fremont Main Library [Library Tour]

First in our Library Tour Summer Series is Fremont Main Library.

This is the front of the library. You can’t see it, but there’s also benches where you can sit and a return book drop at the front of the library.

Instead of electronic book returns, they have a hole in the wall that you drop your books in. We returned our books that we got from Castro Valley Library in the slot.

One of the exhibits was a seed exhibit. As you can see, it includes seed books. It is located near the adult section.

In this library, unlike the Castro Valley Library, there are two floors. So we went up two flights of stairs to the research section.

The children’s area is near the front.

We spotted this and thought it was cool. The bright part is where it’s daytime. The dark part is where it’s night.

This is us in the children’s area. I saw books in the children’s area and immediately started plucking them off the shelves. They weren’t at our library, that’s for sure!

Emily put a coin into the wishing well. It’s kind of loud, but I like the quote.

There’s a whole other section for series books! It was sort of like a secret place…so I didn’t go in there.

There’s only one checkout stand in the children’s area, besides the ones outside the security.

I liked all of the art pieces. Some of them were digitally designed and some of them were drawn.

This is actually the view from the children’s area past the computers.

I liked this dome at the front.

We took a selfie at the end before we left. Bye, Fremont Main Library!

Not included in the pictures…the art exhibits. There was a showcase one, in a case, and one like photography upstairs in the research section.