Monday, May 25, 2015

Field Expedition: John Muir Museum

 Lucas, Aiseah and Sam getting ready for the walking tour about John Muir. 
 With the man himself. Muir was an amazing man who made a huge impact on our national parks. 
 Ranger Ron was an expert in all things John Muir. He was very informative. 
 Heading to John Muir's home. 
 Creative play time with Cheyenne and Sam. 
The girls making a garden from fallen fruit. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Life Lessons From My Husband


My husband and I have been married for 16 years. When we were young bucks we thought we had it all figured out. But little did we know how little we did know! Over the years, my husband, the ham that he is, has taught me these three lessons about life.

Laughter is the best medicine. 
I don't know anyone who makes me laugh or makes me WANT to laugh as much as my husband. Sometimes it's just a look and I'm smirking and giggling. He can diffuse a tense situation with some wisecrack remark. He is the guy who when he sees something on social media that's funny, cannot wait to share it with everyone within reach, so they can share in his laughter. He refuses to use Facebook for anything other than to impart some level of humor. He loves to pull pranks on our kids just so he can laugh at them (they are usually belly laughing, too). You can ask his family and  friends - he's a ham through and through (though he will deny it). He's got this charisma that I cannot describe that draws people in (sometimes strangers) who in the end are either hugging him or giving him fist pumps. I'm nothing like my husband and gladly stand on the sidelines letting him have the spotlight. Our home is filled with laughter and joy because of him. He reminds me to not take life too seriously (which I do) and remember that laughter brings us together as a family and helps us to create lasting memories.

Book smart is NOT the same as street smart.
I suppose it's pretty obvious that I'm the book smart one in this partnering. I'll read up on just about anything and get the head knowledge I need. But it never beats actually experiencing it. The first time my husband forbade me from every going to gas up my car at night, I thought he was crazy. Seriously, what's the problem? And then he proceeds to tell me about all the possibilities of danger lurking in the dark. I had to admit to myself, that I never gave those any thought. I also never gave a second thought to dimly lit parking lots, withdrawing money from an ATM in a shady neighborhood or driving with the kids late at night on the freeway. I know, what's wrong with me? It makes me thankful to have a husband who has taught me to be more vigilant and more cautious when I'm out since I'm no longer just responsible for myself but also my family. Not to say I couldn't hold my own - I do recall the days in college when I use to roam the streets of New York, D.C. and San Francisco all on my own. I just put that "tough look" on. Actually my husband is laughing at me right now....oh boy.

Try to see the best in everyone.
I real admire this quality about my husband. He will trust you off the back. He will welcome you with open arms and would probably give you the shirt off his back. Sadly, we've come across people in life who have taken advantage of his kindness. He's been disappointed and would express that is hurts. But you know what? He holds no grudges. When my husband crosses paths with those few folks he is nothing but gracious. He reminds me that we are human and prone to sin and make mistakes. That we should never put ourselves in a position to judge because that's not our place. We are to display God's love in treating others in how we would want to be treated - perhaps even more so. I've learned through his example, to show more grace and less judgement. I empathize more and pray more. God gave his best to a people who didn't deserve it. How much more should I do the same? I'm thankful for a husband who reminds me of that everyday.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Watching the Last Fight

Watching our good friend Mark Munoz in his last UFC fight. It was an early morning fight since it was taking place in the Philippines. These boys woke up at 6am to catch the fight. To reward them for getting up so early on a Saturday morning, I cooked up a hearty filipino-style breakfast for them. What's better than longanisa, eggs and rice in the morning? A Munoz win that is!

Right before the fight they are both excited to see their boy tear it up. 
 First and second round were brutal, but Mark is definitely winning. 
 Whoo! He did it! Mark won! Coming down from all that adrenaline these guys are exhausted. And it's only 9 in the morning!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Coupon Deals of the Week: Rite Aid, Walgreens and CVS

Here's the best deals I got this week. 

Rite Aid
Bought Xtra Detergent on sale for 2/$4
Used (2) $1.00/2 Xtra coupon
Received 100 Plenti Points for buying 2, limit 2 (the amount of times the deal can be earned)
Paid $6.00 and got (2) 100 Plenti Points or $1/each
Walgreens
Colgate mouthwash on sale for $3.99 and get a $2.50 Register Reward
Used a $1/1 Colgate coupon
Paid: $2.99 and received a $2.50 Register Reward or $0.49 for the mouthwash

Bought (6) Puffs tissue boxes on sale for $0.99/ea
Used (3) Puffs coupons ($0.25/1, $0.75/2, $1.50/3)
Paid: $3.44 or $0.57/ea
CVS
Bought (3) Starbucks K-cups on sale for $7.99/ea
Receive $5 ExtraBucks if you spend $20
Used (2) Starbucks coupons ($2/1, $3/2)
Paid: $18.97 and got a $5 ExtraBucks or $4.65/ea

Bought (3) Puffs tissue boxes on sale for $0.99/ea (we use a lot of tissue in my house!)
Used (3) $0.75/1 Puffs coupons
Paid: $2.22 or $0.74/ea

Monday, May 11, 2015

Mother's Day


 Gifts from the men in my life. So sweet and unexpected. 
 Spending time up valley at our favorite bakery Bouchon.
 There was a long line so we played selfie while waiting. 
 Ending our day at the Napa River. We had lunch at the Napa General Store. 
Love them!

Friday, May 08, 2015

Fieldwork with Lucas: Lake Herman

 Starting our morning with a discussion on native birds.
 Observing the swallows and their nests. 
 Our next activity was testing the lake's pH balance.
 Learning our turbidity, acidity, and alkaline.
 Testing the pH balance of several types of liquid.
 Lucas and Aiseah worked together well.
 Christian (in hat), Keitaro and Aundrea.
 Aiseah and Lucas catching invertebrates and microorganisms in the lake. 
This was the group's favorite activity. 

Life Lessons From My Sister

My sister and I are polar opposites. And while she baffles me (and I'm sure I do the same to her), she has taught me two important things about life...

Don't Over Think It
I can over think it. I really can. My head hurts. My body aches. I think that's another stress bump on my neck. Part of the drawback of being the organized-neat freak-plan-ahead daughter is that when things don't go as planned, you can get thrown off your game. I don't think a chilled version of this kind of person can exist. That said, my sister is not me and is baffled by the things that make me lose it. She is always telling me to not worry, it's all gonna work out, you're not alone, stop stressing. And at the moment, I want to bark back at her, but I know she's right. Some things are out of your hand and stressing about it just adds fuel to the fire. I have to remember that God is in control and that no matter what, He has my best in mind and that's where I should find my peace and rest. Of course, that's not how my sister would say it. It would be more along the lines of, "Girl, stop over thinking it. You're stressing over nothing. Relax!"

Have Fun
My sister is spontaneity incarnate. I can't tell you how many times I ended up doing something totally outrageous and unplanned with her. And sometimes this was while hauling our little ones! It was always off the cuff and often I never had time to react, but in the end, I always had fun and was glad I did it. Let's see...a sudden trip to the mall in San Francisco on a weekday, grabbing a bite to eat at the local diner only to find out that she invited 20 other people and they all showed up, thinking we were only going to stop by a party "real quick" and finding myself crammed shoulder to shoulder at a DJ battle and losing her in the crowd.  I'm always perturbed by her. But sometimes I think I'm more perturbed at myself. Why? Because I fall for the same trick time and time again! Why do I think it'll be any different? But the truth is, even as I write this, I'm laughing to myself, because seriously, this is Seinfeld-like stuff that made my life so colorful. So yeah, the jokes on me, but so is all the fun that came out of it. On to the next adventure!

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Coupon Deals of the Week: Rite Aid

I love me some Rite Aid. For a month there, they had ceased their UpRewards program and made me very sad. But this month they rolled out their new program called Plenti and now I'm happy again. It's similar to Walgreens Balance Rewards program, in that you earn points,but when you earn points at Rite Aid, you can also use them and earn more points at partner companies as well. One of which is Macy's! Love! All the stores have different offers that you can activate to earn lot of Plenti points. 100 points earned is equivalent to $1, so I'm still getting the same value of points as I use to in UpRewards. I went there this week and was able to take advantage of two deals they were offering.

Bought 3 Dawn dish washing liquid, get them for $1/ea plus 100 Plenti points
Used (3) $0.25/1 Dawn coupon
Paid: $2.25 and earned 100 Plenti points

Bought 2 Ziploc Slider bags for $4 and earn 100 Plenti points
Used (1) $1/2 Ziploc coupon
Paid: $3.00 and earned 100 Plenti points

Bought 2 Dove Shampoos on sale for $2.99/ea
Used (2) $2/1 Dove hair care coupon
Paid: $1.98 or $0.99/ea

Total Paid: $7.23 and earned 200 Plenti points ($2.00 in value)

Monday, May 04, 2015

Life Lessons From My Auntie


Our house served as home base for my mom's siblings when they first arrived from the Philippines. They would stay for up to a year or more getting themselves established with completed coursework, a job or maybe a significant other. My aunties were particularly good sources for fun and creative ways to stay entertained. Here's what I learned from them:

1. You don't need fancy toys and gadgets to be entertained.
I remember them teaching me this fun string game they taught me that involved intricate patterns where you had to find the "X" in the pattern, maneuver your fingers through it in order to get to the next pattern. I could get through maybe 3-4 patterns before the patterns got really difficult, but gosh, I loved that game. They would also teach me these fun magic tricks and hand games they learned from their friends back in the Philippines. I would then teach my friends at school - who in turn thought I was so cool. Haha.

2. An adventure is as close as paper and pen.
One of my favorite games that my auntie taught me was the dot game. Where line by line you tried to create as many squares as you could. The one who had the most squares claimed, won. We would take sheets of paper and create these huge dot patterns and the game would go on forever. I usually lost, but the fun was in the strategy of the game and the thrill of getting several squares in one turn.

I also remember drawing small city and neighborhood landscapes with just a paper and pen. On paper, I would draw my idea of a city and all the lovely things that it had. A beautiful park in the center with a lake with ducks in it, a playground, maybe a winding trail, lots of trees and flowers. And then across the main street was a row of pretty buildings housing a bakery, toy shop, postal office or maybe a restaurant. And don't forget the soaring skyscrapers in the back. I would sit there for hours imagining and drawing my little cities.

3. The simplest games can be the most fun.
My favorite game to play in the Philippines was Sungka. You can find the best explanation of the game here. It helped me to develop strategy, learn patience, and be a good observer of mathematical patterns. Plus its just plain addicting. Sitting there on the cool tile floor indian-style in my grandmother's house moving the seashells (or beads) from one hole to another. It's simple in its objective, but more entertaining then you'd expect. If you ever get a chance to play, I highly recommend it.

At my home now, I'm trying to instill in my video-game-centric boys that games that don't involve a controller are just as fun (and perhaps) more rewarding then the instance gratification of games on a screen. My eight-year-old and I play Connect Four and I really do try to win. But I do lose - because he is learning to double-cross me. He blocks and he lays his traps. He also loves the dot game. It's fun to see that even my boys can appreciate the simple things in life.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Brogan's Lego Party

 Completing his marble maze.
 Lucas went with a 3-D effect to his maze. 
 The birthday boy and his marble maze. What a fun and simple lego project. 
 Now for the real building: Lego race cars!
 Lucas went for long and lean - unfortunately it wasn't very stable. 
 Ronin decided he needed six tires. 
 The second car/plane Ronin created. 
 The final activity was to build a custom garage for the vehicles. 
Lucas' final creation included blasters going in all directions.