Friday, October 09, 2015

20 years. Really?

Tomorrow is my
20th High School reunion.


Sometimes when I think about it, it seems like my high school days just happened. I can remember lunch in the quad, sketching in art history class, MEChA meeting (of course), pep rallies, football games and yearbook deadlines. But if I really think about it and all the things that have happened since June 1995 and October 2015 it seems like it was a lifetime ago.

Over the last week, reunion fever has hit a high. My 'girls' and I have been chatting on social media all about dresses, hair and nails. It has been so fun connecting with these girls again. It feels like Homecoming all over but without the stress of a high school guy as a date. As a group we made the decision to go to the reunion without our significant others. Ladies Night!

High school may have only been 4 years of my life but for those 4 years these girls were there everyday. For the boring things to the exciting things. I thoroughly enjoyed being around them and I cannot wait to spend an evening catching up and just talking and laughing together.

I am excited and even a little bit nervous for the big shin-dig.

20 years. Damn. 

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Homeschool Week 7: Plants Make Their Own Food Like This

It was a pretty mellow week this time around. No real big projects or videos to do but as always still a lot of work to do.


Language Arts: This week we dove into the letter "Ii". We added the ice cream flashcard to the pile and we worked on the the sound and writing the letter. We did a ton of worksheets. The exciting part of the week was that we have started blending letters to make words. We started with the -at family. As usually Louie is having a hard time with the concept of blending but we need to stick with it. She did read her first word on her own this week. It was 'rat'. Not sure what that implies.... We also got to bust out the Bob books that Tia Mary bought when Phi was starting school.

These are great book. Super simple. We are working on book 1 called "Mat". It's a slow progress and I am looking into other ways to help get her to understand blending.

Reading: We talked a lot about the setting and characters of a story. Phi and Poppa read a few books and they looked at the characters and the setting. Louie and I also played a game where I would give her a setting and a character and she had to guess the story or the movie. It was a lot of fun and I caught her playing it with her sister.

Writing: We started a new story this week. We are looking at what a narrative is. We brainstormed a idea of a story about a real adventure Louie has taken. She decided to write a story about an off-roading adventure. Of course she did. So far her story starts with packing the cooler, then the guys check the cars and then we see a squirrel.

Math: We moved on to the number 6 this week and we have continued working on some graphs. Louie had to count pictures and color in a graph for each. We also have been practicing counting to 20. She is great up to 11. We are still working on it.

Social Studies: I loved the topic this week. We talked about leaders. We talked about what a mayor does, a governor does and what the president does. We talked about the qualities that a good leader has. We talked about some of the things she is learning in girl scouts that are helping her become a leader. She drew the most awesome picture of Obama. We also did a lot of talking about how a man or a woman can be all these things.

Science: We looked at the differences between living and non-living things. Louie had a checklist and her and Poppa went outside and looked for different items. She found leaves, flowers, a rock and was able to classify them.


Language Arts: More tall tales this week! The weekend before we had gone to see the play Annie Get Your Gun so we asked if she could do Annie Oakley as her tall tale. We looked at the setting and the characters of the story. We also looked at the exaggerated  features of her story. We also compared and contrasted her story with last weeks story about Paul Bunyan. She made a cool fact wheel all about Annie Oakley. She also wrote a poem all about her.

Math: We looked at comparing 2 decimals. We worked on converting decimals into fractions and those fractions into common fractions to compare numbers. Step-by step math like this are fun for me. For Phi not so much, but she is doing a really great with it. We are taking math really really slow this year. Like 2 problems a day. This is really helping in limiting her frustration levels. And mine too.

Social Studies: Phi had to do a cultural bag project. She had to pick a culture in our community that is different than ours. We had to think a but about this one but we thought about our friends the Ugapo family, they are from Samoa. So we looked into the some food, traditions and holidays. The assignment was to write about traditions and holidays on one side of the bag. She wrote about the dance, clothes, tattoos and the White Sunday holiday, which is all about celebrating kids. The other side of the bag was a traditional recipe. We asked our friend Carrie Ugapo for her favorite traditional dish and she told us about Half Moon Pies. A pineapple filled pastry.  She filled the bag with pictures of lots of samoan items,

Science: This week was all about Photosynthesis. We watched this fun video (You've been warned the song WILL get stuck in your head) and talked all about it and wrote our own photosynthesis recipe. We also did our own little experiment with a plant. We took the plant in the living room and noticed that because of photosynthesis all the leaves were facing toward the window. So we rotated the pot and will be keeping an eye on it to see how quickly the leaves move.

Week 7... over and out.,

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Happy 88th Birthday Nana!

See that look my Nana is giving the camera.

 Us grandkids know that look. It's the look she gave us when we tried to sneak the phone in the other room, or when we even thought about leaving the fence. It is her "Don't even think about it" look. Growing up my Nana was the stricter of the Nana and Tata duo and now that I am the stricter of the parenting duo in my house I totally understand it. She would never want anything bad to happen to us, she wanted us to make good decisions in life and be the best people we could possible become and she was going to do everything in her power to help us get there. Because she loves us all more than we could even imagine.

And now that all her grandchildren are adults it is safe to say that she did a damn good job.

This is not even close to all of us. 
 And now she gets to sit back and enjoy her great-grandbabies. She gets to spoil them and love on them now that her children and grandchildren get the tough job of raising them up right.

Happy 88th Birthday Nana.
Thank you for always taking care of me and for never letting me go past the fence. 
I love you so much. 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Homeschool Week 6: Interviews Over Pho


Language Arts: We are up to 8 letters now and Louie is doing great with 5 of them. The letters "C, D, and N" are just not sticking. I am sure that there is a reason why they are not teaching the letters in alphabetical order, but I really think it would help. Over the weekend while at my parents, everyone chipped in to help Louie with C, D, and N. So far C is sticking better but N and D are still a mystery to this kid. We did a lot of flashcard review this week. 

N is for Nana

There was one point when we were sitting at an In and Out waiting for our food and I busted out the flashcards. Louie looked me straight in the eye and stated "I quit". So 5 weeks in is all it took for Louie to quit school. Awesome. I think it's time to find a new way to get her to learn these letters. She is also supposed to know 5 sight words and because letters are such a difficult task we haven't even really reviewed sight words.

Reading: This week we took a familiar story and had Louie tell us details from it. We started the week by me reading the story to her. Then she told me the story using the book. Of course she picked a sea otter story so the next day she used her sea otter dolls to reenact the story. On the last day she drew the 2 sea otter characters and retold the story like a puppet show. 

Writing: We finished the first section of the writing program and this week was kind of like review. We looked back on her work and Louie picked one and rewrote it. We looked at her story and how in 5 weeks her writing is improving. 

Math: We are taking our 0-5 skills and using them to learn one more and one less. We looked at a number line because common core (UGH) and played a few dice games to help show what one more and one less of a number is. 

Social Studies: This week Poppa and Louie did some more research on Mr. Appleseed. They found lots of interesting facts like when he was born and where he grew up. Later in the week Momma and Louie watched another video on J.A. and we used a venn-diagram on a whiteboard to compare and contract was life was like when J.A. was alive and what it's like now. Then at Nana and Tata's house we read another Johnny Appleseed story from a Tall Tale book we checked out from the library.  

Science: We are still talking about apples. I really wish we could fit a quick trip to Oak Glen. Maybe this Sunday. For this week Dr. Louie the mad scientist put her safety goggles back on to do an experiment. Her question was "do different types of apples have different amounts of seeds?" Next she had to conduct an experiment to find her answer. So we bought 4 kinds of apples, red delicious, granny smith, fuji, and gala. Then we sliced those puppies open and counted the seeds. Louie found that different types of apples do have different amounts of seeds. The granny smith had 10 and the fuji had 3! 


Language Arts: This week we started talking about Tall Tales. I tried to find a more culturally relevant one for Phi but her teacher shut down the La Llorona idea since it was more of a folklore than a tall tale. So we went with one that reminded us of our favorite guy, Poppa! We watched the Disney version and read a few books all about Paul Bunyan. We looked at how the story differed a little with each version. The assignment this week was to create a "Tall Tale Pop-Up Book" with specific types of figurative language.

This was a very fun project and came out so cute. I think my favorite of her figurative language was page 3 and the alliteration.

Math: We are still looking at the power of ten and how to multiply by 1/100 or 1/1000 etc. This is all about when and how much to move a decimal point. Phi is grasping this okay.

Social Studies: The assignment this week was to interview someone who had immigrated to the US. Phi choose her Uncle Tommy and over pho on Sunday she sat and interviewed him. We used the voice memo app on my iphone and used pictures and Powtoons to made a video.  Here is the interview.

Thanks so much for sharing with us Tommy. We love you!

Science: We are looking at cells. We watched this really great video and it was a great way to learn the basics. We also watched a Bill Nye video about cells. As Phi was watching she starts laughing because there was a girl in the video that "looks just like you MOM!"

She wasn't lying this kid does look just like me! Weird.  

The project was to make a model of a cell. Phi choose an animal cell and decided to make a pizza to represent the cell and all its organelles.

educational and yummy. My favorite combo!
So we are down 6 weeks. Is it winter break yet? Just kidding. Kind of! 

Friday, September 25, 2015

The Baby Turns 30

Since you can't drink on your birthday this year here is a picture of you drinking everyone's drink. 

Tomorrow the baby of the family turns 30 years old. How is that even possible? 

Like seriously? How? 

Over the last year or so I am constantly catching myself calling Phi, Elaine. I do it all the time and as Phi gets older I seem to do it more and more. I think it's because I can vividly remember Elaine at this age. With her stick straight hair and blunt bangs, her tye-dye t shirts and big smile. When she was into dolls and cartoons. And now Elaine is 30. She is engaged to a terrific guy we all adore and is pregnant with our new niece/cousin/granddaughter. She is a full-fledged adult. Well she has been one for a long time but something about being 30 makes it more real to me. 

Happy Birthday Elaine. No matter how old you get you will always be that annoying little sister who loved Barney and carried a dalmatian doll around (Shout out Pecas!) and the best rock show partner I have ever had. Thank you for being such a good sister, friend and an amazing Tia/Nani to my kids. 

We love you very much. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Homeschool Week 5: Apple Dissection and Colorful Celery Stalk

Week 5 is in the books! That means less than 30 to go! We had a really good week and even managed to go to a school event! On Friday the school put on an outdoor movie. We pulled out the big picnic blanket and got to watch The Little Rascals and we got to sit with our super cool friends Ava and Sophia!

Afterwards we noticed they were selling some school gear for a great price so we got both girls a sweatshirt. I remember getting my elementary school sweatshirt and loving it! And I still wear my high school one!

School Pride!


Language Arts: This week's letter was "Aa". This one was a bit easier for her to write but as usual it was hard to get her to remember the name of the letter. She is okay with the letter sounds but the names just won't stick. She got her first set of grades back and she got a 2 on her letter recognition. (Don't even get me started on this 1-4 scale!) I think it's time to start flashcards with her. Besides the worksheets we played some games, watched some videos and Louie and Poppa went on an "Aa" hunt around the house. We also reviewed syllables and counting words in a sentence.

Reading: This week we talked about the info you can on the front cover, back cover and title page of a non-fiction book. Of course I saved this one for the last minute and so we looked at books on Amazon. Of course I also read to her. We have been reading from the complete book of Star Wars characters.

Writing: For writing this week we focused on more details of writing. One day we looked at a character's clothes. I asked Louie to pick a character in her story and we talked about what that character would wear. She choose Elephant and apparently he always wears a top hat and suspenders.

I think he looks smashing!
On another day we talked about zooming in on a character. So we "put on" our binoculars and zoomed in on the character Cat. Cat likes to have fun ZOOM Cat likes to play games ZOOM Cat likes to play bingo.

Math: This week was all about 5! We looked at counting objects in a picture. She put together a cute book where she counted the animals in the picture. We also played number matching game. She also had to pay up to a bunch of pirates this week by counting out gold coins.

Social Studies: The kids are learning all about Johnny Appleseed this week! We watched the Disney cartoon and Louie and Poppa read an article all about him. The assignment was to create a project giving 3 details about Johnny Appleseed and explain why he was a good citizen. Here is Louie's...

Science: To tie into social studies this week for science Louie studied apples. We talked about all the colors they come in. We talked about how they grow on trees. We asked Jessica from work to tell us about her favorite apple recipe. Louie labeled the parts on an apple and even got to dissect one with Poppa.

As as a tie in to math there were 5 seeds! 


Phi had a pretty light week since she turned in her state report and was a week ahead of the rest of her class.

Language Arts: Before starting a new novel Phi had to write an opinion essay about the book "Hatchet" by Gary Paulsen. Her writing skills are getting a lot better. She did a spider web outline for a 5 paragraph essay with 3 book quotes included. She took that and wrote a rough draft that we edited together. Then she typed it up, edited a few more times and printed a final draft. It's a great paper! She also had to draw a book cover . We have also some great grammar worksheets that the teacher has been sending home. Each sheet has about 6 questions and reviews a lot of different types of grammar. Love them!

Math: THE POWER OF 10! Now I am imagining the number 10 with a cape! We looked at the pattern of 0 and how exponents work. With math it seems like sometimes she gets it and then when we try to take that concept and use it for real-life like math problems it gets confusing for her. This week our worksheet was about Phone Troubles. It used exponents to try to figure out if a person had enough memory on his phone to download some new music. Very realistic.

Social Studies: WEEK OFF! YEA!

Science: We looked at the difference between vascular and nonvascular plants. To bring the point to life Phi did the Celery Lab Experiment. We have all seen the celery in the colored water project. We did this to look at how vascular plant use xylem and phloem to carry water through a plant.

It was a nice week and we are looking forward to whatever week 6 brings! 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Frankie Liked to Sing by John Seven and Jana Christy

Last week I got a package in the mail from Abram Kids, a publishing company. So we all know that I have a slight love for books. And by slight I mean immense.  So I was very excited because these are the people behind Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. I opened the package to find this....

I swear sometime I think people are spying on us. Recently Louie and Phi found a Frank Sinatra song on their ipod. Of course there is a story behind the song so here we go...

When I was pregnant with Louie my top choice for a name was Delilah. See that song by Plain White T's was super popular and I loved the old-fashion feel to the name. But most importantly I wanted her to have her name in a cool song. I always wanted a song with my name in it. So Joey was not about that name so he knew that he had to come back with a old-fashion like name that was in a song. He searched and  succeeded. Late one night he put some ear buds in my ears and I listened to 2 songs that night with the same name in it. One of them was this one...

And that was it. Thanks to Frankie we had a name for our new baby girl, Louella 

Okay so that's the story and the girls have been playing this on repeat recently singing and dancing along with Frank. Then this book by John Seven and Jana Christy arrives. I am telling you spies. 

I got a chance to read to the book to the girls last night and they loved it. A great story that gives us a kid friendly version of the life of a true musician. Frankie had song in his veins since he was a little lad singing in his Dad's bar for nickels. At the end of the book is a great list compiled by the authors that are great songs for kids by Sinatra himself. I let Louie and Phi pick one to listen to before bed and they choose The Coffee Song. We all agreed that Frank Sinatra was a heck of a singer. I think a quick trip up to his Palm Springs to take the Sinatra tour might be in order.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Homeschool Week 4: Hawaii Action News Report with Sophia L.


Louie got her tablet issued to her and this made the week a bit easier. She was able to sit with me and working on apps and listen to stories while I could keep working on my own computer. As much as I would love to give my girls 100% attention when they are working I can't because they are working the same time I am. 

Language Arts: We are very thankful that Louie's teacher has slowed down to 1 letter a week. This week we are working on the letter "Cc". We are doing the worksheets and watching fun videos and I have found lots of awesome apps to help teach letters but it's just not sticking with Louie. We even went as far as to by her a Chewbacca. Because Chewie starts with C. 

Reading: This week we did a really fun project that her whole class got to participate in via Google Docs. We watched a YouTube video of the cute Eric Carle story called "Head to Toe". We watched it 3 days in a row and talked about the different animals and the different movements they made. Each day Louie could remember more and more of the animals. The assignment was to come up with our own animal and movement. Take a photo and add it to the google drive doc. Of course Louie picked a...

Louie and Poppa also looked at 2 characters and compared and contrasted them. Because it's her favorite book Louie choose "Rosita and Conchita" and compared the 2 main characters. They did such a great job at looking at what the sisters had in common and pointing out their difference.

Writing: We are continuing with the writing program and this week we talked about topics. Since we have been working on a continuous story we have already talked about a main topic so this week we talked a lot of Peach the bird, her friends and their adventures. In her writing exercises she introduced a new character, an elephant who will be staying with Peach for 3 days.

Math: This week we looked at how to determine which groups have less and which have more. We also working on number recognition and the number 4. This was a hard one for her to write. She is still working on it.

Social Studies: Conflict resolution was the topic this week. We talked about ways to deal with when someone makes her angry. And Louie can go from happy to pissed off in about .2 seconds so this was a well overdue discussion. We listened to a Winnie the Pooh story all about the gang getting into a fight over what Eeyore should do. We talked about how fighting makes everyone involved feel. I asked her how she felt when Poppa and I were angry with each other and she said that she didn't feel anything and she didn't care when we were mad. I asked her how she felt with her and her sister fought and she told me that they never fight. Apparently she has no idea what arguing or fighting is because her and her sister fight constantly. Anyways, we went over a few made-up situations where she may get upset and we talked about way to resolve it. Things like, walking away, sharing a toy, finding something else to do, or counting to 10. She thought that last one was hilarious. We ended the discussion with a sing-a-long to "Why can't we be friends?" by War because why not?

Science: Louie and Poppa talked about how a scientist shares they information they have learned. To do this Poppa and Louie did a fun Chromotography experiment with some markers, paper towels and water.

Bonus work: Poppa and Louie started working on the days of the week. They had an interesting technique but it worked. Mom Monday, Taco Tuesday, Work on Wednesday, Thinking about Thursday, and Farting Friday.


This week was all about the big state report. Phi has been researching and taking notes, writing a script, putting together costumes and scenery. We even asked for a week extension and we are super excited that it's done and Phi is really proud at how it turned out. 

Language Arts: We took it easy this week. She finished the book Hatchet. In her words, it was awesome. I am glad she liked it. I have always struggled to find things she likes to read. She recently read her first Goosebumps book and loved it. So we did an extra library trip so that she could get more. Anything that gets her to keep reading.

Math: This week we talked about how place values are 10 times as much as the value they are next to. This seems like a really simple concept but this new common core math makes it so DAMN confusing. There are a lot of times when it comes to math when I need to step back and try to explain things to Sophia as simply as I can.

Social Studies: This is the big week. We have been working 4 weeks for this. This is the week that the state reports are due. Phi has spent the last 4 weeks researching and putting together an amazing video report. Instead of a boring paper she decided to do a News Cast. I am so proud of her. It came out amazing! 

This week is also the big State capital and US Map fill-in test. She is ready for the fill-in part but as I write this on Tuesday morning she still has about 12 more to memorize!

Science: We looked at the different classifications of animals. We started with vertebrate and invertebrate and then looked over what makes a mammal, reptile, fish, bird or amphibian. The assignment was to discover a new animal and classify it. Phi came up with "The Fuzzkin". A very cute fuzzy mammal that lives on top of the clouds. They are hunted by big birds and eat the tops of trees.

Now that the big state project is out of the way and the novel is done I am expecting some fun changes to Phi curriculum next week!

Friday, September 11, 2015

The 60th Birthday Bash

My Mom's only request was a pink champagne cake from The Madonna Inn!

The 60th birthday bash was a huge success. Mostly because my sister Cari is an amazing party planner. Thanks to everyone who sat through that 101 traffic to celebrate with us. 

My Mom does everything for us, so we were very excited to have to chance to do something nice for her. 

Mom & Pops with their kiddos

And with ALL the kiddos. In-laws and all. 

A very big thank you to my Beautiful Aunt Angie who brought my Nana and made a huge batch of her famous coleslaw. I am so glad my Mom's sisters were there to celebrate with her. There is no one else in the world she would rather party with.

Next up... Elaine turns 30!

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Homeschool Week 3: Dexter in Safety Goggles and Shopkins Dichotomous Keys

This was an super fun week because we had 2 days where we worked in Santa Barbara at Nana and Tata's house. We got to work outside in the gorgeous weather! It is what I always imagined homeschool to be. My parents and sisters got to help out and it was awesome. 


Language Arts: We continued our journey into the alphabet. This week we worked on the letters "Nn" and Pp". I am finding that Louie's retention is now what I thought it would be. This kid sees a commercial for a new toy one time and tell me where I can buy it, how much it costs and what size batteries it needs. But if we spend 3 hours working on the letter N, at the end of the day when I am tucking her into bed I night I will ask her. What letter did we work on today? She will look she straight faced and say "I have no idea".  To say it's frustrating does not even begin to explain it. I know that right now we are hitting the stage where the novelty of having homework is going to wear off. Louie is realizing that this is like not going to stop. We did a lot of worksheets this week. Big thanks to Tio Kelly who found a dice app when we couldn't find dice!

We played a few rounds of pictionary to review the letters "m,s,r,t,n,p". I gave her the letters on a piece of paper and then draw something. She would have to pick up the right letter. These games are fun but always end with Louie and I fighting over what my drawings are. For example, this is my ninja...

Louie was not buying it and after a 10 minute debate we ended the game.

Reading: This week we talked about how words are separated by spaces. We looked over some books to see how the spaces work. Then we talked about what a character is. This was fun. Since Louie is obsessed with Seussical the Musical ...

we talked about some of the characters and we picked the characters Horton the Elephant and Maizey la Bird. We compared the characters. She picked two really good contrasting characters and we were able to talk about how different characters make a story interesting. Then over the rest of the week, every story we read we talked about each character.

Writing: I am still trying to figure out the writing program that the teacher has given us. I think I am on the right track but I let the teacher know that if we are way off base to please let me know. This week was all about writing stamina. Louie continued working on her Peach the Bird story. This week she added 3 more pages and each time she had a 10 minute timer and had to write and draw the entire time. So last time Peach met a cat and 2 monkeys. This week the saw a fireworks show, went home and went to bed. The monkeys have a bunk bed!

Math: This week was all about 3.  It's the magic number you know. This week gave me another excuse to use Jack Johnson as a teaching tool.  After some worksheets Louie got to go on a treasure hunt with her Nana. They went out in the backyard and found things in groups of 3. She found bottle caps, oranges, flowers, leaves, pennies, and strings of confetti.

Social Studies: This week was about being a good citizen. This was an easy lesson and really review for Louie. She has been in girl scouts for 2 years and our troop is all about being good citizens. We read the book "What if everyone did that!" and Louie did her own drawing of what would happen if everyone picked the flowers from a rose bush. The picture was of Nana crying because all her flowers were gone.

Science: Tools of the trade was the lesson this week. We looked over the different types of tools that scientist use. We talked about what each does and why a scientist needs them. Louie drew a picture of her favorite, a microscope. And of course we had to pull out this picture of Scientist Dexter.

Dr. Dexter says safety first!


Language Arts: Phi read up through chapter 14 of Hatchet by Gary Paulsen and did the worksheets. Like last week she had to pick one project for a list to do. Since we knew that we were going away for the weekend we had to pick one of the more boring projects, an essay. An essay about the northern Canadian forest. We made the best of it and she wrote a pretty interesting essay about the area and how it effects the story. 

Math: We looked at making and understanding patterns in word problems. This was a bit easier for Phi to understand. I have to give her props, she is really trying her best to have a good attitude. So far each week focuses on one standard. The workload is light so that helps. The online resources at LearnZillion help too. 

Social Studies: We are on week 3 of memorizing state capitals and filling in a US map. Phi is up to 27 capitals memorized. This weekend she challenged Tio Kelly to a US Map battle. They each got a blank map and had to fill in the states. They finished at about the same time and after reviewing Phi was the big winner! She missed just one state and Kelly missed 2 because he mixed up Vermont and New Hampshire! We also filmed our first part of her state project video. Since we were in SB we took advantage of the tropical like weather and filmed the weather segment! 

Science: Do you know what a dichotomous key is? Yea neither did I. So after a quick lesson for myself we jumped in and it was a lot of fun. Dichotomous keys are ways scientist classify things like plants and animals using a series of questions. Here is a great example on how to classify candy...

Phi decided to make a dichotomous key to classify her Shopkins.  She did a great job and even went that extra step of typing up her report.

We had back to school night and both girls seems to be doing well. Her teachers are great at keeping the lines of communication open. Next week we will be focusing a lot on getting Phi's state report video done!