Monday, June 29, 2015

Summer Bucket List: Go Camping

We just returned from our long weekend of camping. We spent the last few days at Lake Camanche in Ione, CA. The first two days were scorchers. I'm not big on camping, so the reason I do it is mainly for my boys (the big one, too). The planning, packing and execution is overwhelming and I uncharacteristically drag my feet each year. But, I always try to remind myself of the good things I do like about it: the relaxing moments, the time spent on the water, the evening stories by the fire, the wind blowing through our tent and cooling us off, and the kids enjoying themselves.  

My favorite moment had to be taking the kids out on the tube as it was being pulled by the jet ski. The sheer elation on their faces was priceless. Never have I seen such genuine happiness and excitement. I watched them with unadulterated joy and laughter as they were being pulled, bumped and swung around the lake. Sadly no photos and videos- I'll just have to remember that one in my mind.  

 Little Jordan steals my hat to shade himself from the burning sun. It was 104 degrees that day. 
 J.J. and Lucas happy to be together and having a quick drink before heading to the lake. 
 It took two hours in 104 degree weather to set up camp. Here's the finished product. Our cots and yes, my rug. A total must. 
 The boys side of the tent and their cots. 
 My cot overlooking Lake Camanche. 
 My husband on my cot enjoying the sunset. 
 Ronin and his cousin Jordan. This little guy is so precocious. He was so entertaining!
 Four days later heading home. One cannot wait to get on his phone. The other was conked out. 
The big boy enjoyed himself but he's just as glad as me to finally head home. We crashed that night!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Summer Bucket List: Learn to Make Soft Homemade Pretzels

Lucas loves pretzels. Every time we go the mall he always asks for a soft pretzel, lightly salted.  I told him that I bet we could learn how to make pretzels at home and then we could have them anytime we wanted. He loved the idea. So we set forth looking for a recipe that we thought was doable. I love baking, but I usually stick to recipes that are straightforward and don't involve to much fancywork. We found this great recipe on 

Lucas mixing the dough.
 He read all the measurements and directions. Looking good so far. 
 We found that the pretzel twisting involves a lot of practice. It's certainly an art. 
 Wetzel Pretzel employees make it look so easy. It's not!
Our finished product. Not very pretzel-looking, but they tasted delicious. We'll have to work on our technique more. Lucas was very happy with the pretzels- he had four! For the most part, a success. We shared them with his cousins, who also devoured them. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Summer Bucket List: Attend the Lego Club

 The boys making their creations and making new friends. 
 Lucas insists he doesn't like Legos, but I think he secretly does. 
Ronin's creation made it into the display case! Come see it at the Benicia Library. 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Summer Bucket List: Learn to Make Brownies

This is my go-to brownie recipe that I've been doing for years. It encompasses all the things I love about brownies: a crispy top, a chewy center, a density of dark chocolate and sweetness that's just right. You only need a small piece to be truly satisfied. Too much and you will get a tummy ache! Anyways, my son Ronin really wanted to learn how to make these himself, so I walked him through the recipe and had him make his own batch. He did a great job reading the recipe, the directions and the measurements. This is his finished product. We might have another baker in the family!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Summer Bucket List

Summer is here and that means bucket list! The summer bucket list is just a wish list of things we would like to do during this time off. We don't usually get through it all, but we definitely have fun getting through some of it. And this list is really helpful when we have those, "what to do?" moments. Most of the ideas are fun stuff, but there are a few academic things I try to sneak in. Can't forget all the cool things we learned at school! I'll post throughout the summer the bucket list items we are able to complete. 

Wishing you a safe and fun summer!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Sonia's 40th Birthday Celebration

 The favor
 Decorative balloon
 Dining details
 The guests
 Daughter and celebrant
 Sharing memories of the celebrant
 The offspring - the favored one in the middle
The men

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Whoo-hoo! Last Day of School!

 Heather, Mikayla, Samara and Sarai enjoying pizza on the last day of school. 
 Lucas with his buddies: Quran, Cheyenne, Sam and David. 
 Sweeties: Anahi, Amelie and Anna. 
 Lucas with his teacher Ms. Klinge. 
 Lucas with his buddy and fellow scholar Cheyenne.
 Ronin with Theresa. She's moving to Oregon over the summer. 
 Ronin with his teacher Ms. O'Brien.
An awesome surprise visit from Ronin's good friend Gentle Edwin. He no longer goes to the school, but he and Ronin have remained good friends. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Can We Do This?

There was definitely some doubt when we considered homeschooling our son. We knew it would be better, but how? This post on Hip Homeschool Moms definitely helped me to see the silver lining in this journey ahead.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Making A Change

It was another day picking up the kids at school. I had knots in my stomach. It was like this every day before I saw my kids coming out of the school doors. For one son, it was always the same. A green card day. In other words, he did great in school academically and socially. For the other son, it  was not so predictable. It might be a good day or it might be a bad day. And if it's a bad day, it was probably a really bad day. The first son crashes through the school doors and greets me and the second son slowly follows with his head down and his shoulders slumped. Oh, another bad day.

This has been our life for the last four years.

Each year, we were hopeful that with growth and maturity our son would begin to acclimate to the school environment, make friends and find his groove academically. We hoped that having a expeditionary learning experience would foster his desire to discover and learn. We had high hopes for his charter school. But, alas, after learning that his difficulties ran deeper than just academic, we began to understand how difficult the traditional classroom setting was for him. Not only was he being left behind, but he was also serving as a distraction to his classmates and teachers with his many stims (stimulants).

So after a year of giving special resource and speech therapy (2 years) a try, we concluded that it was time for a change. After much prayer and discussion, we've decided to pull our son out of the charter school and home school him this fall.

This begins a whole new adventure for us.

After discussing it with my other son, he was adamant that he wanted to remain at the charter school. Given that he excels in the very areas that my other son struggles, we agreed that remaining in the charter school (for now) would be the best decision. And honestly, I wasn't sure how I was going to balance taking on two students at home on my first go around at homeschooling.

My hope is to use this blog as a platform to share my own personal experience with homeschooling and how my son responds to this new way of learning and discovery. 

Perhaps your curious how my son felt about being pulled out of the charter school? To be honest, he was really the one who broached the subject. He asked if he could try online schooling. And then he began to give me multiple reasons why home schooling would work for him. I discussed it with my husband. We prayed. We discussed it more. We prayed more. It seemed that everything was pointing to the direction of homeschooling, so we made the final decision to make the jump.

So what now? We are spending this summer...

: decompressing and forgetting the past school year - it was particularly difficult for him academically and socially and it's caused him to develop more stims that I hope, with home schooling, will lessen or disappear altogether

: reviewing level-appropriate reading comprehension and math skills that will give him the confidence he needs to see learning as a possibility rather than a hurdle

: learning as much as I can about homeschooling, especially homeschooling a child with special needs

: relax and have fun!

Have a wonderful summer! Upward and onward!

Boot Camp at Westwood Hills

For almost a year I've been participating in a boot camp every Tuesday and Thursday. I was growing bored of my usual workout routine and was looking for something different. Little did I know that spending day after day with these gals would result in real teamwork, where we have supported one another as we work towards a healthier version of ourselves. We have pushed one another and laughed together. We've also questioned our own sanity participating in this often painful and tiresome camp! As part of two of the gals' birthdays it was decided that we would take class outdoors and go for a hike. Though some of us had a harder routine than others (ahem...) it was a good day enjoying the great outdoors and getting to know one another better. 

 Almost there - I was NOT in the mood to take a selfie. Haha.
 Made it! (L-R: Dulce, R.J., Reneeh, Keila, Felicia, Berto, Chelsea and Mercedes)
 Ladies who lunch and hike together: Cynthia, Willi, Me and Jackie.
 Jackie loves a selfie!
 Before we began our uphill sprints. Get a picture before we look like a hot mess!
Yay! It's all downhill from here. (Literally, we were working our way back down the hill.)