Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Homeschool Week 8: Breaking News

Language Arts: We are getting close to the ending of the book! I love that Phi is reading this book at this age. What a great reminder how girls are just as strong and resourceful as boys can be. Karana is such a great example of the strength and courage a young girl can possess. I am bracing myself for the ending. Phi did all the novel study assignments. I have noticed that Phi's reading comprehension this year is a little better than last year. She is already reading novels a but faster too.

Math: We dove right back into multiplication and anyone who has been following along since last year knows that this is not Phi's forte. Getting her to memorize the multiplication tables, combined with these crazy common core lessons has made it really hard. She still hasn't them all memorized but we are slowly working on it. This was the first week where math was hard. There may have been some talking back on her end, and there may have been 4 days without electronics. I hope that these hard weeks are few and far between this year.

Social Studies: We talked about the Native California tribes close to home. We talked about the desert tribes. We talked a lot about about how the climate determines how they build their homes and what they wore. We talked about the governments they developed. When we were talking about what Phi thought made a good Chief she talked about traits like, honest, brave, kind, funny and realized that her Tata would make a damn good Chief. I told her he was kind of like the Chief of our tribe!

To bring the lesson to life a little more we took a trip to the small Native American Museum in Palm Springs. It was a very small place but it was enough to let Phi learn a little more about native governments and she got to touch and see a few of the plants and what they were used for.

Science: This week we studies microorganisms. We talked about the 3 different types of microorganisms The assignment was to write a newspaper article about one type of microorganism. There needed to be quotes from an expert and from someone who has dealt with the microorganism first hand. We got permission from Phi's teacher to do a video instead.


Big thanks to Uncle Matty for helping us out. 

Despite the math we had a pretty fun week! 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Back to Troop

There are a lot of things I am now that "cool teenaged" Elissa would never had imagined. Things like blogging, knitting and being crafty in general. You can add Girl Scout Troop leader to that list, but here we are. Last year when we started Troop 2123 we had 4 members. Last week we celebrated the start of our new troop year with an investiture ceremony with our 20 troop members. Yes 20! 

It's been a crazy and so awesome first year and Melanie, Jessica and I are super pumped for the new year. We wanted to start the year off right with a very special investiture/rededication ceremony. The 3 of us really worked and planned our tails off and the results were amazing. We had such a special night for all the girls. 

The night was extra special for my tribe. First off our troop decided to open membership to Daisy aged siblings. That meant that Little Louie's big dream was going to come true. She was going to get to be a Girl Scout. All last year Louie watched from the sidelines. She talked a lot about how she couldn't wait to be a Girl Scout. She would carry Phi's sash around and ask me about each and every badge. When we decided to let Daisy's in I kept it a secret from Louie until the night of the ceremony. Before the ceremony started Joey and I presented her with her vest. She was a bit stunned but as soon as the ceremony started she was excited to be a part of it all. 

We started our ceremony with a special Girl Scout promise. Each girl was given a special candle and we passed on the light. It was really awesome to see.

We wanted the girls to know that being a girl scout is a commitment. We wanted to remind them that as troop members, troop leaders and parents we are all dedicated to making this the best experience for them possible. To emphasize this we had each girl, each parent and each troop leader sign a contract.

Even Louie...

The last part of the ceremony was the pinning of each member. Each girl got a new membership star for the new year, an investiture badge, a badge with their level. Our troop had 4 girls that were bridging up to the Junior level and my Phi was one of them. To mark the occasion we made a "bridge" with balloons and at one end Phi removed her Brownie sash and walked across the bridge.

Ugh could I be anymore cheesy proud Mom in this picture....

Then I got to present her with her new Junior vest. It was a very proud moment for me. Seriously just writing about it makes me teary eyed. I am such a sap.

Before we let the girls loose on the cupcakes and other goodies we had one more surprise in store for them. Troop leaders Melanie's Mom made each of the girls their very own personalized bag. 

 We also had a photo backdrop set up where Melanie took some really great pictures of all our girls. 

Here is our newest (and youngest!) member of Troop 2123

And her silly face....

And our brand new Junior's silly face....

That's better....

If you would have told us 5 years ago that we would be so involved in Girl Scouts we never would have believed you. But this group has been such a blessing in our lives. We have a new big group of really great people in our lives and our girls are making life long friends, learning important skills and gaining self-confidence. 

Of course the access to Girl Scout cookies helps too!

Thursday, October 09, 2014


My parents recently moved into a new house. They had been at the "old" house for about 10 years. It is the only place the grandkids know as "Nana and Tata's House". It is where we took the twins trick or treating for the first time ever. They dressed up as ducks. It is where we have had the last 10 Christmas mornings. Even the ones where we had to Skype in Elaine and Kelly from Florida. It is where we had our luau/poker tournament baby shower when we were pregnant with Phi. It's where we had the most amazing 3rd birthday for Phi, you know the one where Mom ended up in the kiddie pool. It is where Joey and I had our wedding reception and where I danced with my cousin Roman for the last time. It is where we have had beer pong tournaments, star gazing around the fire pit and I am sure thousands and thousands of cold beers.

Phi was really sad about the move and there is no doubt that it does suck. She kept going over all her memories from the house. I stopped her in the middle of listing things and told her that just because we do not have that house anymore doesn't mean we don't have those memories anymore. Those memories are for us to have. Forever.

Over the 10 years at the old house I have taken some of my favorite pictures of my family.

It is not the house or the trees that I love about these photos. Its the people in these photos who I love more than life itself. And those people are still our people. We may be changing where "home base" is, but what as long as the 14 of us have each other it really doesn't matter where home base is. As long as my Mom is there to hug us and Pops is there with a cold one for us when we get there, that is our home. They are the heart of the family and this new house is giving us a new background to a lot of new memories. 

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Homeschool Week 7: I Got You Babe

Language Arts: We are now about halfway through the Island of the Blue Dolphins book. We worked on the Novel Study questions for chapters 10-14. I am so excited at how excited Phi is about this book. I forgot how vivid Scott O'dell's descriptions are.

Math: The lessons this week were all about time. We worked on worksheets about different way to write time and working with elapsed time as well as working with schedules. Of course I loved this because I love schedules

Social Studies: We continued learning about Native California tribes. This week our focus was on those that lived in the mountain and valley areas. We answered some worksheet questions and for her project she got to research different types of games Native kids played, pick one and bring it to class for everyone to play. Phi picked the bowl games, where Native kids took 6 nuts and painted them white on one side and black on the other. Then placed the nuts in a bowl. Each played would hit the bowl to the ground and if you got 5 ore more of the nuts with the same color you get a point. Since Phi is allergic to nuts she used buttons that she spraypainted black on one side and pink of the other. She also used a to-go container as the bowl so that there would be a clear lid.

Science: For science we studying mutual interdependent relationships, also known as symbiotic relationships. We read the work sheets and how animals and plants help each other.We watched this cute video. We found a few more videos about different animals who help each other out and the assignment was to present a symbiotic relationship. Phi chose the clown fish and a sea anemone. Instead of just making a picture we did a simple craft.

Since Phi has really been loving working on PowToons she made a new one all about the mutually interdependent relationship between Larry the clown fish and Harold the sea anemone.


Monday, October 06, 2014

September Books and Gratitude

49. The Infinite Moment of Us by Laureen Myracle: a very unmemoriable book that I most likely picked up in hopes of another Fault in Our Stars. To be honest I have no idea what this book was about and I only read it a month ago.
50.We Were Liars by E. Lockhart: this was a good story and a quick read. A very Kennedy like family and a really shocking twist at the end.
51. I Just want to Pee Alone by Kim Bongiorno: A compilation of a bunch of Mommy bloggers talking about the horrors of parenthood.
52. This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper: I have had this book on my "to-read" list for awhile and since the movie just came out I picked it up from the library. What a great book! A sad and funny story about a family trying really hard to get through the death of their father.
53. Everything Changes by Jonathan Tropper: Since I loved "This is where I Leave You" so much I immediately grabbed another book by Tropper. This one was pretty good but it became pretty clear that Tropper has a formula that he uses for all his books.
54. Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina: As usual I got my hands on some chicana literature. I really wanted this book to be great, but it was just okay. A book about a young girl growing up on the East Coast and her life trying to deal with her Mom's secrets and the school bully Yaqui Delgado, who for some reason it out to kick butt.

And always so much to be grateful for....

9-1-14: a beach day
9-2-14: fantastic girl scout meeting
9-3-14: My Momma's birthday
9-4-14: that they have each other
9-5-14: cool artist who encourage kids to be artists too
9-6-14: a pool day
9-7-14: my brother-in-laws birthday
9-8-14: fresh veggies
9-9-14: that Phi loves school
9-10-14: that Joey didn't get hurt!
9-11-14: Generous friends
9-12-14: a reminder that they are always watching
9-13-14: a night with my beautiful Boo
9-14-14: a successful surgery for my Nana
9-15-14: that we saved a box of girl scout cookies
9-16-14: my talented co-leaders
9-17-14: sky gazing with Louie
9-18-14: kids with kites
9-19-14: my family making boring errands fun
9-20-14: Friday Night Lights and yarn
9-21-14: 15 years with my Vero
9-22-14: silly books that make us all laugh
9-23-14: movie night with the troop
9-24-14: for Joey getting a cute costume together last minute
9-25-14: for trying new things
9-26-14: for my baby sisters birthday
9-27-14: being able to help my family move
9-28-14: bonding time for the cousins
9-29-14: new school portraits
9-30-14: a break from the heat. 

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Homeschool Week 6: I Will Survive

Language Arts: We got through chapters 6-9 in Island of the Blue Dolphins. Phi is really enjoying this book. We worked on the Novel Study and answered the questions for all the chapters we read. The novel study so far has been pretty straight forward questions. As a way to learn a little more about the life that Karana might have lead I made Phi her own profile on the Webrangers Site.  This is a great site put together by the National Park Services. Phi was able to make up her own Ranger Name (It's Ranger Itchy Kid) and she has her own office. There are lots of fun activities for her to play and learn.

Math: This week the lessons were all about different types of graphs. We did worksheets on double bar graphs, line graphs. The worksheets that we were given were 2-sided but the backsides had the answers on them as if they were from the teachers book. Since we got through the front sides in just 2 days I went in and just crossed out the answers and had her work on them. We did run into one issue when it came to Math and tutoring. Phi goes to tutoring for about 45 minutes on Fridays to work with a junior high kid on math. This week when I reviewed the work they had done, it was done wrong.

Social Studies: Coastal People was our topic this week. Joey and Phi worked together to learn all about how California tribes like the Chumash lived off the land. The assignment was to make a list of some of the ocean resources used by these coastal tribes. Of course Phi's was centered around animals.

The second part of the assignment was about how coastal tribes used resources they found in their area to use as trade. The assignment was to come up with something to bring to class that can be traded for goods and services. Phi had a great idea and decided to make rainbow loom bracelets as her good. Over the weekend Phi and Lili had some fun making rainbow loom stuff!

Science: Adaptation and accommodations were the topic for science. We reviewed how plants and animals adapt and accommodate in the rain forest, desert and coral reef. The assignment was to pick an animal make a picture of it and then present 3 different ways that animal has adapted to its environment Phi picked a camel.

Here is her presentation....

Monday, September 29, 2014

That's Just Stickel

Phi is with one of us about 97% of the time. She's gone for about 4.5 hours a week at school. Louie is with us pretty much 100% of the time. And yes it is as exhausting and you would imagine it to be. It also makes it hard for me to imagine my kids having relationships with other people that I am not a part of. (Ummm helicopter, too involved parent much!) The other night Louie reminded me that her and her sister have their own relationship and conversations that do not involve myself or their Poppa.

Last week Phi and Joey were out running an errand near bedtime and I was putting Louie to bed. We read a story and I laid on the floor next to Louie's bed. We were quietly laying in the dark and we started hearing this tapping sound. I asked Louie is she heard that and she said "Oh that's just Stickel picking up and dropping rocks."  I asked her how she knew that and she went on to tell me that one night she heard that noise and got scared but Sophia explained to her what it was and so she wasn't scared anymore. She also emphasized that I shouldn't be scared either.

Her little story made my heart melt a little. My older daughter taking care of my little daughter. It reminded me that they have a relationship all of their own. I am so thankful for that. I have such great relationships with my sisters. They are my lifelines. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Happy Birthday Uh-laine!

I am trying to wrap my head around the fact that today my baby sister turns 29. I have no idea how that is even possible. How can 29 years have passed since our "monkey baby" was born? I think I am going to have a harder time when she turns 30 than she will.

Happy Birthday Elaine. You are the ultimate youngest child and we would not have it any other way. Looking forward to celebrating with some hot and ready's, cold beer and cake!

We love you so much,
Joey, Liss, Phi and Small Fry 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Homeschool Week 5: I Want Candy!

Language Arts: Not only did we start a novel with a novel study guide to go with it. But we started a really awesome book that has always had a special place in my heart. Phi read the first five chapters of The Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell. I loved this book as a child because I grew up in Ventura County and we went on many field trips out to the Channel Islands. Phi also knows the islands well because she has grown up with them as the background to her grandparents house in Santa Barbara. We just started the book and read chapter 1-5 and Phi is really into the story. I am excited to read along with her.

Math: This week a fun packet was sent home along with a bag of Skittles. Yes candy. It was 5 pages and using the candy we worked on mode, median, range and mean. We also worked on more pre-algebra concepts and points on a graph. This was a really fun and interactive way to learn math concepts. I really liked the pre-algebra worksheet. each color was assigned a letter, r=red. Then you count the number of red skittles to determine the value of r. After you find all the vaules you can figure out problems like (g+y)-r. It was so fun that we got it done in just 2 days. The candy also help inspire us when it came to the science project.

Social Studies: This week's topic was all about the first people in California. We talked about the Bering Straight Land Bridge and the big number of different tribes that lived all over the state. We talked about the different ways tribes had to adapt. We talked about how the Chauilla Tribe in the desert had to adapt for the heat with their clothes and housing, while the Chumash Tribe in had to adapt to living off the ocean.

Science: Joey and Phi read all about eco-systems. If you have been following along since last year that you know that Phi and Joey made a working ecosystem in a glass bottle last year. This year the assignment was to create their own island with it's own ecosystem. The teacher said to get creative, so of course we did. Phi really likes working on the Powtoon site to create presentations. For her its much more fun than writing an essay.

And of course she made the island.....

I have to tell you that the blue jello ocean mixed with all the other sugary goodness makes this one really amazing smelling island. 

So between easy Math week and candy projects we all enjoyed week 5! 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Wait and See

After weeks of debating, talking to anyone who would listen and long talks with Phi, we made the decision to try the immune suppression therapy. We really have tried it all when it comes to Phi's eczema and what helped me make the decision was the 2 weeks that Phi was on steroid medication and cleared up.

For those 2 weeks it was almost as if she was a different kid. She was happy, animated, helpful around the house, she enjoyed getting dressed and for the first time in a long time got to wear sandals and short skirts. During this time there was a night we got home and we were hectically putting away groceries so I could get the girls to bed. To my surprise Phi had got Louie into her pj's, brushed her teeth and tucked her into bed. I cried that night because I realized what eczema does to her, how it effects her everyday.

I want that happy rash-free Phi everyday and her doctor thinks that this therapy will get us there. We went through the pros and cons and in the end we made the decision to try it. Now we wait and see.