Monday, February 23, 2015


Somehow we made it through 2 of the toughest days of our lives. We were surrounded by lots and lots of people who loved us and supported us as we laid to rest the patriarch of our family, Those 2 days were a blur. There were obituaries and an eulogy to write, flowers to be ordered and programs to be made.  The 2 days of ceremonies were filled with memories and images that I will never ever forget. Some were beautiful and others were heart wrenching.

On Sunday we all gathered together to celebrate Melody's 5th birthday. The day felt like is was mirroring what we had been through the last few days. It was cold and gloomy and then it would sprinkle. Then the rain, like all our tears, poured from the sky. The rain was hard and overflowed everything. The sky opened up, just like all our emotions had done. 

As the rain began to taper off the kids starting yelling for us to come and see. This is what we saw....

An absolutely perfect rainbow. It was breathtaking. A few days earlier my Tia Mary asked my Tata to gives us a sign that he was okay and happy. This was the most beautiful sign he could give us. This rainbow is right over the house he lived most of his life in. My heart really wants to believe that this was his way of letting us know that heaven is where he is and that he is joyful and still with us.

I also think this rainbow was a reminder that hope, renewal and beauty can come after even the darkest storm. Losing my Tata has been the biggest and scariest storm I have ever endured. I am no where near the end of it, really I am still right in the middle of it. But this reminded me that one day the clouds will part and something beautiful will reveal itself.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

There Goes My Hero...

Nothing could have prepared me for it.

When my Tata went into the hospital my family went through every emotion you could think of. I have never been so scared in my entire life. But through it all we held on to hope. Then we were told that there was nothing left the doctors could do. Over the years as my Tata grew older and his health declined, in the back of my mind I knew this day would come. But nothing prepared me to actually hear it. I was alone at my office and I cried with this almost animalistic cry. Sobbing so hard my whole body shook. The week of anxiety and the good news followed by bad news had come down to the unthinkable. The worst case scenario. My Tata was sent home with a hospice nurse to live out his last hours surrounded by his family. He left this world on February 13th with all 9 of his children and his wife by his side.

My Tata was born in Valencianita, Irapuato, Guanajuato, Mexico. As a young man he wanted to become a priest. Despite his desire to serve his church, his family simply could not afford to send him to seminary. During World War II my Tata signed up for the Bracero Program and was sent to Arizona to work.

While in Arizona, Tata began to frequent a place called "The Cow Palace". Now I am sure the food was good but my Tata was there for one certain waitress. My Nana and Tata fell in love and eventually married and they landed in Amado, Arizona. Amado means 'beloved' in Spanish and I think this was the perfect place to start their lives together.

In 1953 my Nana and Tata moved to Santa Paula, California when my Tata got a permanent job at the Limoneira Company. He worked there for over 40 years and retired at the age of 70. They also had 9 children. Yes 9. 8 girls and 1 boy. I have always thought my Tata deserved a medal for living in a house with 9 women and 1 bathroom. I grew up on Limoneira Ranch just about a mile or so from my Nana and Tata. Growing up I saw them all the time. Most of my childhood memories outside of my house are with them. With him. Taking a walk to watch him work on the forklift or to hang out with him while he worked on his parcela (garden.) Him piling us kids in the truck to take us to McDonald for happy meals.

I don't think I could ever find the words to properly explain who my Tata was and what he meant to me. He was the best man I have ever know.

He taught me respect by always being respectful to the people around him. I cannot remember a time I ever heard him raise his voice in anger.

He taught me the importance of education by constantly giving me money towards college. Over my childhood the $5 here and $1 there added up to over $4000.00. He literally paid for my AA degree, books and all.

He taught me faith by being a religious man. I can remember on Christmas Eve when he would duck out of all the festivities to attend midnight mass.

He taught me that words are powerful. That reading and writing could change the world. He taught me this by always having a paperback book, a notepad and a pen in his pocket.

He taught me to be generous by always having gum for all his grandkids when we asked for some.

He taught me that family is everything. There was nothing more important to my Tata than his family. Even with the chaos of all of us squeezed into one house, that was when he was most happy. When we were all together.

He taught me what unconditional love was by always being ready with open arms for me no matter what. No one has made me feel more loved and adored than my Tata. I was his "reina."

Everything I have ever done, my college degrees, my marriage, how I am raising my kids, my pride in my work, my writing, my photos, they are all to make him proud of me. My Tata has and will always be the biggest influence in who I've become and who I will continue to grow to be.

I really believe that they way my family has handled everything is a testament to my Tata and the family he created. The family literally wrote the eulogy together. My Mom and my Tia's and Tio's, me and my cousins sat and put it together, line by line, as a family. Yes it took all day, but that's how we do things. With lots of food, and people and kids running around. With laughter and tears and Starbucks runs.

I know that hard times are suppose to make me stronger but right now I can't figure out how I am suppose to get past this. I am so devastatingly sad. The pain of losing this man is so great that I can't understand how it will ever subside. Watching my Mother say goodbye to her Father, and watching my Nana grieve for her husband of over 60 years is unbearable. I get up everyday and go through the motions of work and the kids when all I want to do is be with my family. My family, my husband, my friends but most of all my children are saving me right now.

I have lost a light,a piece of my heart, my compass and I feel lost. I know that the hardest parts are yet to come. We are all busy putting together your services. We will be surrounded by out of town family and friends who we haven't seen in awhile. It is when the work is done that the reality of your absence will set in. I am trying to take some comfort in knowing that you are at peace, that you are in heaven, that you are with Roman, that you had a long and full life, that I had the chance to say good-bye. My head knows all these thing, but my heart doesn't understand and it just feels the pain of losing you. 

 I love you Tata. Rest now. Until we will see each other again. 

Too alarming now to talk about.
Take those pictures down and shake it out
Truth or Consequence
Say it a loud
Use that evidence, race it around
There goes my hero
Watch him as he goes......

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Homeschool Week 20: The Eureka Daily

Language Arts: We have finished By The Great Horn Spoon. Phi read the last 3 chapters this week and we completed the last 2 novel studies. I didn't have the time to read along with Phi and so she was very much on her own when it came to understanding the story. This story was okay, definitely not my favorite this year but it seems to be the only grade level book on the gold rush. Now that this book is over I am hoping we start something new right away.

Math: This week was the hardest we have had yet. Phi is really struggling with just getting the motivation to work on math. Her retention when it comes to math is also working against us. If she comes in with a good attitude and concentrates we can end math with her feeling confident and understanding the subject matter. But the next day she can't remember a thing. I really believe her attitude plays a big part in this. I am trying to make it more fun and we played some on-line games but she still needs to learn the basics. Right now its adding and subtracting mixed numbers.

Social Studies: We continued learning about the gold rush. We learned how President Polk was the one who gave a speech that started the whole rush. It was amazing the things people believed about gold in California. Her assignment was to develop her own newspaper. It includes a story and picture about a 49er, a map of the California gold fields, an ad for the Panama Shortcut route and all about Sutter's Mill. This was fun to put together and thanks to templates on google drive it was easy!

Science:  This week was a recap on the planets. We looked at their distance from the sun and how the outer and inner planets differ. It was an easy week with just a few questions to answer.

This was a really hard week emotional for us. Phi is having issues with seeing us as teachers and parents at different times. I really think math is giving her such a difficulty that she thinks anything else would be better. She wants to go back to her private school which we won't do for a few reasons. I reminded her that her Poppa and I made this decision based on a lot of different things but the main reason is because we only have our kids with us for such a short time. And we want to be with them as much as we can. We feel that by homeschooling until 6th grade gives us more time with our children. It also allows us to teach and learn together. Homeschooling has brought out some of our worst sides at times, but it has also brought out some of our best.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Homeschool Week 19: Fremont and The Ranch

So for the record I skipped last weeks recap. It totally slipped my mind and to be honest it was a very easy week. No big projects to speak of. So we are moving on to week 19!.

Language Arts: Phi read chapters 10-15 of By the Great Horn Spoon. The story is a lot of fun with a lot of language of the time mixed in. It makes it a little harder for Phi to follow along but she is still doing a great job. This week we did 3 different pages in the novel study guide. We studied how mining destroyed much of California's landscape and how we are still dealing with the mercury dumped in the water by the miners. She drew a picture of a gold mining cradle. We got to play a choose your own adventure like game on-line to see if Phi could make it during the Gold Rush. She couldn't. I couldn't either.

Math: We are now into adding and subtracting fractions with like denominators and simplifying the answers. We are doing okay with this. We had 4 worksheets and we got through them with little difficulty.

Social Studies: We studied all about the Mexican American War. This week really solidified my love for California history because without us knowing it the lesson hit super close to home. After answering the textbook questions she had to pick one person from the war to research and write an essay about. She chose John C. Fremont.  Who strangely looks like Joey.

So weird. The coincidences don't end there. As we were researching Fremont's attack on Santa Barbara is is documented that he and his troops rested at what is today Rancho de Ciervo. The same ranch my parents lived on for 10 years, and the ranch my Pops still manages today.
Rancho de Ciervo
We called my Pops and he knew all about it. He told us that the trail they used is still there. There was also a big oak tree called "Fremont Tree", but it fell down a few years ago. We plan to hike up there and check out the trail soon.

Science: We are reviewing solar and lunar eclipses. We read from our e-book and answered some questions. The project for the week was to create something that demonstrates a lunar and solar eclipse. Phi and Poppa came up with this.

Very cool project! They used a girl scout cookie case box (we have a lot of those right now) chopsticks, styrofoam balls, construction paper, glitter, glue and a flashlight as the sun. I love how Phi painted the earth and how the even covered and labeled the outside! Great job!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Dirt Road Diary: Calico Ghost Town

After off-roading in the Calico Mountains we headed over to Calico Ghost Town. Since Phi is studying the mining era of California history we knew this would be a great place to experience a mining town. 

Calico, Ca was a real life mining town in the late 1800's, At its peak there were over 80 houses and mines were producing $10 million in silver. After the mines were tapped out, the town was all but abandoned. Mr. Knotts, of Knotts Berry Farm fame, bought the town and took most of the original buildings to Knotts Berry Farm. What was left at Calico were a few buildings and he built replicas around them. Today it is a cute little touristy place with some great California history.

The cost to enter is $8.00 per adults and $5.00 per kid. I thought the attractions were worth the price. There were other little things the kids could do like pan for gold. This cost $1.50 for Phi and Louie was free and the got to keep the "gold" they panned.

We took the little train tour ($6.00 total for me and the girls). They guys sat and waited for us.

The tour gave us a lot of facts about the town and throughout there were lots of original items from the mining days. 

We had a really great time and stayed until the saloon doors were closing.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Sponsored Post: Getting Through the cold and Flu Season with PediaCare

This is part of a sponsored campaign with Latina Blogger Connect and the maker of PediaCare®.
However, all opinions expressed are my own.

It is officially cold and flu season. Ugh! It has gone through our house once already. Dealing with snotty kids who are cranky while you are feeling under the weather yourself is the worst. The best thing we can do as parents is try to keep kids germ-free to help avoid getting sick. There are a few things we can do to help prevent illness.

  • Wash hands. A lot. Like all the time. 
  • Cover coughs and sneezes. 
  • Get lots of sleep and eat healthy foods. Do leave your immune system vulnerable. 
  • Get a flu shot. Immunizations, including the flu vaccine help to reduce the risk of ear infections, pneumonia and sinusitis. 
Sometimes, no matter what we do our kids get sick. When they do you can find PediaCare® at your local Dollar General. You can find a PediaCare® for whatever symptoms your little one is dealing with. 

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So the kids are not feeling well and everyone is home and cranky and bored! Here are a few ideas to help keep your sick babies entertained while they are on the mend!

  • Bust out the board games. The easy ones! Think Chutes and Ladders or even Go Fish. Games that require a lot of thinking may leave sick kids frustrated.
  • Relive your childhood favorites. Snuggling on the couch watching a movie is a great way to spend a sick day. Introduce your kids to some of your childhood favorites. In our house my kids were recently introduced to Pee Wee's Big Adventure and Mrs. Doubtfire.
  • Get out the old photo albums. Kids love to look through old photos. Sit down and show them photos of your childhood or of them as a baby.

Wishing you and yours a happy, and healthy winter! 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Dirt Road Diary: Calico Mountains (Mule Canyon Road)

The Muddy Buddy crew had a great off-road adventure last weekend. It was really an off-roading / homeschool field trip. I love when we can make our adventures educational. Phi, our 4th grader is studying the Gold Rush. She is learning all about mining and mining towns. So we made a 2 hour drive out past Barstow to the Calico Mountains. Here we were able to off-road and explore old silver mines. We even spent the rest of the day at the Calico Ghost Town to really feel what life was like for miners.

I know this is like our 12th trip but the views still take my breath away. Every place we visit is a little different. This place was filled with some gorgeous marble looking hills and some areas where the ground was full-on green. The Calico Mountains at one time were filled with silver and was a big mining area in the late 1800's. Everywhere we looked while we rode there were holes in the mountains that used to be mines.
Just chilling in a hole in the mountain
 The ground was very soft so climbing up and down was a bit of a challenge.

We knew someone was going to eat it.

It was Joey.

The Mini Muddy Buddies. These kids really are off-roading super stars.

I know that the guys are really itching to get onto some more technical and difficult trails. Joey did a little climb without the kids in the car for fun. The Mule Canyon Trail we were on was pretty tame with a little bit of a rocky area at one point. Nothing dramatic but still a good couple of hours of fun.

I still can't believe that the view of open dirt roads can make me so happy.

Mines, everywhere, mines.

It was amazing how up-close we could get to and even into the mines.

I loved how colorful everything was. The hills were red, green, yellow and even purple.

Next up..... our time at Calico Ghost Town!