Friday, November 21, 2014

Dirt Road Diary- Johnson Valley- The Hammers Part 2

You can find Part 1 HERE

After we left "The Backdoor" (see always dirty), we headed out in search of "The Giant Rock". Again also a real place.

On the way to the "Giant Rock" we found a soft sand hill that took each Cruiser 3 attempts to get up. It was super hilarious and we all clapped when we made it to the top!

As the sun started setting we made it to "Giant Rock". This place has a super interesting history and some cool graffiti.

they thought it was Ugg weather" 
Matty mentioned that the "Giant Rock" in Landers, California was the worlds largest free standing boulder and had an interesting history, but I did some research on the place and it's history is fascinating. Back in the way back days this was holy ground for the Hopi Native Americans. This is what the rock looked like when we were there.

You can clearly see that a big piece had broken off the side. As I dug deeper into research I found out this....

"People have not lost sight of the power at Giant Rock. It garnered new attention in February 2000 when a meditative reading foretold that the old Hopi legends could easily become true in a short time. Hopi shaman had known since before 1920 that the rebirth of the new 21st century could be foretold at Giant Rock. If the rock split in half the Earth Mother was disillusioned with man and would not accept the prayers given on behalf of mankind.

However if the rock split on the side relieving pressure on the Earth’s tectonic plates then man’s prayers were answered and a new era would be revealed. Although Giant Rock had not moved in a million years, the next morning a third of the rock split and broke away, exposing a gleaming white granite interior. The prophecy had been fulfilled."

CRAZY! Well the history of this place gets even more bizarre. In the early 1930's a prospector named Frank Critzer decided to build a home at the Giant Rock. Not just at it, but under it. He excavated a room where he lived. By chance Critzer met George Van Tassel, an aerospace engineer. Van Tassel went out to the desert to visit. During World War II, Critzer and his underground home came into the radar of the government. He was thought to be a possible German spy and during a raid of his "home" he was killed. 

In 1947 Van Tassel packed up his family and moved to the Giant Rock. It was here that he opened a cafe and plane strip. He also started weekly meditation session in the excavated room, It was also here that Van Tassel was visited by aliens from Venus. That's right aliens. The Giant Rock was a hub for alien communication. So much that he was the location of the Annual Interplanetary Spacecraft Convention from 1953-1978.

During one of his communication with aliens Van Tassel was given instructions to build a electrostatic magnetic generator. Using his given instruction Van Tassel built The Integratron just a few miles from the Giant Rock. A few months ago I heard about this place for the first time and was hoping to see it in real life one day and hopefully experience a sound bath.

We drove right past it!

Okay so back to the Cruisers. Next to the Giant Rock was a smaller rock that was perfect for the guys to "pose" their cars. Boys are weird.

So here we are, one happy off-roading family.

Here are the kids having a good time without a tablet in sight! I think this was the location of the cafe that Van Tassel built.

We ended the day with a dinner at a cafe where we all ate too much really good food.

Here is the whole crew. I finally got a group shot.

The Crew
We also want to wish Uncle Matty a very Happy Birthday today! 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Dirt Road Diary- Johnson Valley- The Hammers Part 1

Last weekend we packed up the Landcruisers and headed out to Johnson Valley (aka The Hammers). It's there where the red pin is. It was about an hour and a half drive from our house. This area is the location of the Annual "King of the Hammers" race. The guys went to that event last year.  During "King of the Hammers" the area is packed, but the weekend we went it was pretty empty. 

Dirt roads and blue skies for miles and miles.

The wind was picking up off and on during the day. We kept the kids in sunglasses to help with the sand.

Joey just put on new tires on the Cruiser so this was the first trip with "new shoes on the whip" (as the guys say). I don't even want to say out loud how much we had to spend. But it was nice not having to have that worry of old tires in the back of my mind.

The big guys.

The little guy. We are lucky that all the kids are pretty happy with dirt, a shovel and some chalk.

Our first stop was to a rocky hill called "Chocolate Thunder". I am serious that is what it's called. I asked like 7 times. A mix of loose sand and rocks make this a place for rock crawlers to play. We drove up to the top and sat and watched a few crawlers make their way (or not!) up the hill.

My handsome Joey. Isn't his nose (and beard) perfection?

Louie and a rock crawler.

After some time on Chocolate Thunder, we decided to head over to "The Backdoor"  (Yes also the real name.) As usual, Matty took the lead and ended up leading us on a 45 minute detour.  Then he radioed over and in not so many words admitted he was lost and asked Joey to take the lead. So Joey lead up right to "The Backdoor". (No matter what it always sounds dirty)

More rock climbing.

Phi posing in front of the wall of rocks complete with oil stains.

I still can't believe how beautiful the desert can be.

Phi is getting to the age where she likes to protest to any plans we have. Luckily she is still at an age that once we get there she has a great time. These trips are not only fun but they are educational (mostly because Uncle Matty can turn anything into a boring lesson) and are really great family bonding time for us and the kids.

Part 2 of this amazing trip coming up tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Homeschool Week 13: Behind on the Mission

Language Arts: We continued on with Esperanza Rising and read the chapters "Los Higos and Las Guayabas". The story has taken a turn and this week I found us talking all about caste systems. It was interesting for me to see how hard of a concept this was for Phi to understand. Our main character has went from a wealthy land owners daughter, to a peasant. The transition is obviously one that Esperanza is struggling with. This book deals with some deep issues and I am looking forward to diving in with Phi.

Math: We have moved on from multiplication to division this week! Phi earned a free homework pass and of course she used in on one page of math. Phi has been doing such a good job this year. Math hasn't been as hard as last year was. It is still not her favorite subject but she is really working to understand everything.

Social Studies: This week we read all about presidios in Alta California. We read about what life was like there and used Google Earth to see the Santa Barbara presidio. How awesome is Google Earth? We also continued on the mission project. We have split up the work. The written essay and speech will be worked on with me and the actual building will be with Poppa. This week Phi researched the mission on-line and took notes. She also made an outline for her essay and started a rough draft. With Poppa they collected cardboard and started measuring and cutting out pieces. This part of the project has gone much slower than anticipated so I hope they are able to get all the cutting out done soon so that painting can begin!

Science:  This week we read about things that can change the surface of Earth quickly. Things like earthquakes, volcanoes, droughts and landslides. Science is super interesting topic that the whole family likes. While off-roading this weekend we were in Johnson Valley and had lots of great examples of erosion.

I am keeping my fingers crossed that we get a break from work during the holiday so we can spend time working on the mission. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Peep and the Big Wide World / El Mundo Divertido de Peep

This post is a compensated campaign in collaboration with PEEP and Latina Blogger Connect. 

Talk about great timing. Louie spends time in the afternoons at my office. During this time Phi is working on school work so Louie gets a little TV time. Recently I noticed that she was watching this cute show about a chicken named Peep, a robin named Chirp and a duck named Quack. When I asked her about the show she told me that it was Peep and the Big Wide World (an Emmy award winning show!) and it was her "most favorite ever!" I headed over the Peep and the Big Wide World in English (you can also visit Peep and the Big Wide World in Spanish) to see what it was all about. I was very excited to find that this show geared toward preschoolers is all about science and math!

The Peep and the Big World website is not just a bright and colorful place for kids, it is also a great resource for parents. The website is also mobile friendly! As of November 3rd the site is also fully bilingual!!

Just a click and the you enter EL MUNDO DIVERTIDO DE PEEP! 

My girls love anything science related and I try my best to encourage that. This website had a lot of great ideas for at-home science projects just right for my preschooler. In the parent section you can find projects and experiments. If you are learning about a certain topic you can search for a fun activity by theme. If you are looking for an activity that you do in the house you can search by location.

Some of the topics you can find on Peep and the Big Wide World are:

  • water
  • plants
  • colors
  • sound
  • patterns
We have been talking a little bit about light and shadows so we learned all about shadow puppets HERE. Then we had a blast making our own!

This is the newest bilingual multi-platform project designed to teach kids important science exploration skills. It has become my go-to site for craft, game, and even book ideas.

Follow PEEP Latino on Facebook and Follow Peep on Twitter

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Homeschool Week 12: Mission Impossible

Language Arts: We are so excited to start a new book! A Pura Belpre Award winning book!

I read this book a few years ago and adored it. I am excited to read it again with Phi. Phi is only a few chapters in and already loves the story. Esperanza is a young landowners daughter growing up in Aguascalientes, Mexico. When her father is killed the day before her 13th birthday Esperanza's whole life is turned upside down and she is forced to live a different life than before. Phi has a novel study guide to go with the book. 

Math: This week we moved to multiplying 2 digit numbers by 2 digit numbers. She usually comes home with about 5 worksheets to finish. The first 4 pages are usually showing Phi different ways to solve a problem. They use graphs, arrays and expanding out numbers. I guess this is what they call core math. When it comes to this stuff I find it hard to understand so we do our best to get through them. Usually the last page is just practice problems and it's here where I have Phi practice the good old-fashion much simpler way of finding the product of 2 2-digit numbers.

Social Studies: The big California Mission project is upon is! Phi got her first choice of Old Mission Santa Barbara. The project consists of building a replica of the mission on a 24x24 base, writing a short essay, preparing a speech and keeping a journal throughout the whole process. Phi has 4 weeks to complete everything. So far she has gone to the library and found instructions for a cardboard mission project. She also designed her journal cover and has been writing in it almost daily. She has complied a list a materials needed and drawn an outline of what her mission will look like. We are planning to go to the mission and take the tour over Thanksgiving weekend.

Science: This week we went back to our e-textbook for a section all about erosion and weathering. We discussed the difference between chemical and physical weathering. We watched a video about how the Grand Canyon was formed. We also watched a Bill Nye video and a Magic School Bus episode about erosion. We also used this as an excuse to jump in the Landcruiser and off-road into the hills to see first hand was erosion and weathering looks like.

Next week the actual building of the mission begins! We have already started saving cardboard boxes. If anyone has any tips please let me know!! 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Dirt Road Diary: Banning - Poppet Flats- Idyllwild

Once the summer hit we had to cut back on off-roading since the heat out in the desert is unbearable. The weather is finally starting to cool off and the itch to get out on some dirt roads was too overwhelming. I swear I don't even know who I am anymore! So on sunday afternoon we got the "crew" together for a short off-road drive in the hills.

A very mellow drive with nothing too crazy. Us, the kids, and the Cruisers are just getting back into the swing of things.

We ended up in Poppet Flats. A very strange, small and secluded area. There was some kind of members-only club and a private area of houses. We drove in and drove right back out.

We headed up the mountain and stopped at Lake Fulmor. We were all amazed that it actually looked like Fall!

The water level had really declined since we were there a few months back.

Lake Fulmor is small and really still and dark. This makes for really great reflection pictures.

While at the lake we noticed that the sun was setting and there was an amazing sunset happening. So we jumped back in the Cruisers and went up a little more to a Vista Point to take it all in. 

After the sun went down we made our way into Idyllwild and ended the day with pizza. An off-road adventure that ends with pizza is pretty perfect.

We are very excited that it's time to start planning some new adventures!