Around Here | March 2014

Around Here is a new addition to my Project Life album this year.  It’s a place where I can add additional photos to tell our story.

140308-Ba74thBday-27Around here, we celebrated my mom’s 74th birthday.  She is beautiful, strong and independent.  I love you, mom.

140305-MSDN-115Around here, I helped organized the 7th Annual Math and Science Discovery Night.  I was thrilled to be able to organize the science portion of the event.  Honestly, I’m good at it and it feels good to be back doing something Jim and I started (and love).

Around here, Samuel and I went to Paradise Beach and enjoyed getting sand between our toes, dipping our toes in the freezing water, trying our best to skip rocks and building a lovely little sand castle equipped with a stick-leaf flag.  Wednesday afternoons are ours – now and for always.

Around here, we were thrilled with the change in daylight savings.  We love the extra hour of light.

Around here, there are lemons and tangerines on our trees.  We are drinking lemonade and fresh tangerine juice daily.

140323-BanhXeoAround here, I am bringing back the Vietnamese dishes (specifically, banh xeo and spring rolls) into our weekly meal rotation.

Around here, spring has sprung and Samuel’s allergies are worse than ever.  We are also noticing a lot of dry spots and bumps on his skin.  We can’t figure out what his skin is allergic too.

Around here, Samuel continues to take riding lessons and music classes.  He decided that soccer isn’t his sport so quit it in the middle of the season.  We are not thrilled that he quit soccer so we continue to have conversations about finishing what we start.  It has not worked yet.

140325-Swing&Birthday-49Around here, Samuel is fascinated by the swing.  It’s about time.  Ha!

Around here, I’m starting an exercise routine (again).  My ankle injury has healed and I am ready to shed some pounds.

Around here, Samuel has been eating a peanut butter & jelly sandwich for breakfast every morning.

Around here, I just booked our Disneyland vacation.  We are also talking about a couple other summer trips.

Around here, Spring Break is just 9 days away!  And summer vacation is 39 days from today.  Yippee!

Around here, I am thinking about my garden but I haven’t put my thoughts into action yet.

Around here, we have many unfinished projects.  We’re hoping to knock a couple of those projects out during Spring Break.

Around here, I am making smarter financial decisions.

Around here, I am reading Catching Fire (second in the Hunger Game series).

Around here, it feels like winter. I’m really enjoying the much needed rain.

140330-FamilyPhoto-15Around here, I am 3 for 3 for monthly family photos.  I’m hoping to get one where we are all looking at the camera.

Around here, we are happy.  We are having fun.  We are thriving.  That’s how it should be.

Today, I …

hosted my first play date with some of the mommies in the neighborhood.  Loved loved watching the boys play!

baked a pie at 7 am and burnt the top to a crisp.  At 9 am, I started another pie.  Crazy, I know — but this one turned out fabulous!

refrained from eating cherries (I am so sad).  I think it gives Samuel bad gas.  We are going cherry and berry picking this Saturday and I will have to work really hard NOT to pick any cherries.

finished a layout using Green Tangerine’s June Kit.  More layouts can be found here.

dropped off my work at Green Tangerines.

enjoyed the sound of Samuel’s laughter.  He brings so much joy to my life.

watched Samuel lift his head higher and higher during tummy time.  Patiently waiting for the him to roll over.

decided that I can manage cleaning one room/item (fridge, stove, etc) per day.

made chicken curry for dinner.

downloaded 704 photos from this week’s events.  No I did not take that many photo of my boy — most of them are photos of my friend’s wedding.

laughed as I went through today’s playgroup photos and thinking about what Natalie usually says about our boys — “Us Sammys need to stick together.”  Check out the series of photos below:

Sammy : Hey Thomas, what are you doing?  You need to leave my buddy Samuel alone.

Sammy : Didn’t you hear me Thomas?  Leave my buddy Samuel alone.  He’s a little fella.  Pick on someone your own size.

Sammy (middle) : I am glad we understand each other.  Now, let’s hang out and have a good time.

Sammy : Hey Samuel, everything is cool.  You can relax now.

Buddies forever.


I ran 3.25 miles in 34:33.

I picked up a few things around the house and did laundry.

I went to the Davis Farmer’s Market.

I picked berries and peaches and apricots at Impossible Acres in Davis, CA.

I sampled two new berries — marionberry and chuckleberry.

I made lemongrass chicken with rice for dinner.  I packed dinner + fruit + water in our picnic basket and we ate dinner at the park while listening to Swing Masters.

I packed for our Hawaiian getaway.

I love concerts in the park.

I feel good but I need more fiber in my diet.

I love long shadows casted by the sun in the “magic hours” of the day.

Goals for the Summer

As a teacher, summers are extremely precious.  It is a time to relax, rejuvenate, travel, learn new things, read, and work on projects.  I am grateful for summer vacations.

This summer, I want to …

1) Learn to quilt.  Make a t-shirt quilt with all of my race t-shirts.  I’ve been saving them since 1997.

2) Garden : Plant hydrangeas.  Start an herb garden.  Plant a lemon tree.  Move the Japanese Maple to a shadier spot.  Nurse the gardenias back to health.

3) Go to Hawaii.  Snorkel.  Eat lots of pineapple and macadamia nuts.  Hike around the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.  Relax.

4) Go outdoors : Hike in Utah.  Hike in Auburn.  Hike Mt. Tamalpais.  Continue to run (and sign up for more short races).  Bike more.

5) Cook more.  Grill more.  Learn at least five new dishes.  Learn to cook tilapia.  Eat more salmon.

6) Clean the closet.  Seriously clean it so that I can walk in it — after all, it is a walk-in closet. 6/3/2010

7) Hold a yard sale.  Sell some stuff and give the rest to Goodwill.

8)) Move Jim’s office to my old scrap studio.  Convert the second bedroom into a guest room.

9) Host a crop at our house.  Have friends over for dinner more often.

10) Pick fresh berries (6/4/2010) and make homemade jam.  And another berry pie (or two).

11) Read : Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult.  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowlings .  The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan.  And whatever else I find along the way.

12) Photography : Shadow a photographer.  Learn the business aspect of photography.  Practice taking better photos.

13) Get my finances in order.

14) Learn to bake red velvet cupcakes.

13) Scrapbook.  Document the journey and continue to tell my story.

Snapshot of My Weekend

Saturday : May 29, 2010

Went to the Sacramento Jazz and Jubilee Festival with some good friends.

Enjoyed the music of the Ophir Prison Marching Kazoo Band and Temperance Society.

Also enjoyed listening to Zydeco Flames, Sister Swing (local band), Big Mama Sue (with a special performance by the Denver All Star Youth Band — they were phenomenal), and Tom Rigney and Flambeau.  Loved it all.  I really wanted to see the Molly Ringwald Quintet but it was bad timing — we biked to the festival and didn’t want to bike back after dark.

Sunday : May 30, 2010

Shopped at REI for new hiking boots.  Gearing up for more hiking in Utah this summer.  Also hoping to do some weekend hikes in Auburn, Yosemite, and the Bay Area.

Laundry.  Plenty of laundry.  Will do a final load of school clothes and store it away until August 16.  And, as always, I forgot to pull out the lint from the lint trap.

Decided that I will participate in the neighborhood yard sale this coming weekend (June 6).  Will need to go through the closet, scrapbook area, and house for stuff to get rid of.

Monday : May 31, 2010

Ran the Buzz Oates No Excuse 5K.  Thought it was a fun, family oriented race but there were plenty of serious runners there.

Julie and I were out there to have fun.  As you can probably tell by now, we’re not competitive when it comes to running.  Races are a source of motivation for daily runs.  We’re slow and we’re out there to have a good time.

The Buzz Oates No Excuses race is unique in that it uses age graded time to determine the winner.  So being the first one to the finish line does not guarantee a first place finish!  Julie and I were the 853rd and 854th person to cross the finish in, but according to the age graded results, I came in 931st place out of 1,243 runners.  Hey, that’s my bib number! So you see, we’re not competitive at all — we just don’t want to be the last ones in.

Snapshot of the First Day of Summer Vacation

In my teens, sleeping in meant sound asleep until about 12 noon.  Then in my twenties, sleeping in meant not getting out of bed until about 10, maybe 11.  And now in my thirties, sleeping in means waking by 7 or 7:30.  And since it’s the first day of summer vacation,  you’d think I’d be able to sleep in later.  Nope.  Wide awake at 7:30.

I do my business in the bathroom, lace up my shoes, and head out for my usual morning run — except my usual morning run is at 5 during the school year.  I ran a slow, slow 4 miles, perfect for a first day of summer vacation run.

I take my time to enjoy breakfast, watch the news, smell the gardenias, and decide how I’m going to spend the rest of the day.  Again, I’m moving really slowly, enjoying each moment of my lazy, carefree summer vacation.

Our friend Cary said that he’d come over sometime in the morning to help us split wood, so while waiting for him, I settle on doing some yard work.  An hour goes by with no sign of Cary.  I decide that I’ve had enough yard work for the day and pack up my tools and close the gate.  (Now, our gate is broken so closing the gate is a big ordeal, especially when two large stumps of wood are used to hold it open.)  And as soon as I step foot into the house, guess who shows up hauling a big ass wood splitter behind his slow moving, oversized truck.  Yep, our good friend, Cary.

I spent the next three hours dragging tree stumps to the splitter  while Cary splits the wood.  As the pile of split wood grew increasing larger, I hauled it to the back with a wheelbarrow and stacked it in neat piles for the winter.  And in the middle of this, there was a freakin’ huge downpour.  Yeah, a downpour during my first day of summer vacation.  We carried on, despite the heavy shower from mother nature.

In the afternoon, I made an olalleiberry pie.

And for dinner, we invited our friends over for a little celebratory dinner.  We’re just all thrilled to be out of school!  We had rice + flank steak + salad + homemade vinaigrette + pie for dessert!

In the evening, I played around in my studio and made this simple layout using a combination of papers from the Green Tangerines Kits, which by the way is also on summer vacation.  The owner is putting the kit club on vacation for the summer as she works out the plans to reopen her store.  (Good luck, Kelly!) The contents on layout below came from this recent post.  By the way, I really love the Hambly woodgrain transparency.


I’ve been thinking a lot about the things that have been inspiring me lately.  And when I visited Ali‘s blog this evening, I saw that she did a post on things that have been inspiring her. Thought I’d play along and share what’s been on my mind.

Color : Red. (I can’t get enough of it.  Plus, it’s cherry season so I’ll be seeing a lot of red around here for awhile!)

Shape : Squares (this t-shirt quilt made by Po Adams, an 85 year old runner.  I want to make one of these with my race t-shirts.  Photo from the Sacramento Bee.)

Letter : E (for my buddy Eric – the nicest, most thoughtful, unassuming, caring, and helpful boy I know)

Letter : A (for Aujanae — another amazing student I absolutely adore)

School Activity : Cow eye dissection (This activity turned some students onto science!  I have some of the best surgeons in my classroom.  More on this in another post later this week.)

Race : Bay to Breaker (Over 60,000 people ran the Bay to Breaker in San Francisco.  Love the camaraderie of the crowd.)

Number : 9,875 (my ranking in the Bay to Breaker — can’t believe I’m in the top 10,000!)

Word : Story.  (Love a good story.  Inspired by life stories of my students, scrappers, and friends.)

MESA Day 2008 recap

Woke up at 5:30 am this morning to drive to CSU Chico for the Annual MESA day competition.

This year, we took 7 students. We were supposed to take 9 students, but 2 bailed the last minute, claiming that they weren’t told the date of the competition.

The 7 that we took have been real troopers in the weeks leading up to this big day. They’ve stayed after school for about two hours each day working diligently on their projects.

On the afternoon of April 17, our custodial staff accidentally threw out the crystals grown by the Crystal Queens. The project (display board and cardboard box of crystals) was stored in our Science building. A custodial staff member was instructed to recycle some boxes in the same area and discarded the girls’ project at the same time. We discovered the mistake the next day but it was too late to recover the project.

We all felt so badly about this mistake but it has been especially disappointing for the girls. Denisse and Iliana invested about two months growing their crystals. They were in my classroom every day after school, working diligently and persistently to grow a crystal that would meet the specifications of the competition. To their credit, and as disappointed as they were to learn about the fate of their project, they put their energy into growing another crystal that would be satisfactory. Of course, time was not in their favor.

I understand that judging is based on product. However, I would be remiss not to mention their dogged determination. Even though their 7.8 gram, octahedral shaped crystal is not available for display, they worked diligently to grow another crystal for this competition. The girls persevered + tied for second at the Northern California competition! Wooo hooo!

Wayne + Vinna, the Manila Mechanics, made a bridge from two manila folders + white glue. Together, they brought home the gold, earning us 4 medals.

Dung’s mousetrap vehicle placed fourth for distance, but first for creativity.

Kevin, my former student, joined us for the math challenge + earned a first place medal. This is Kevin’s sixth MESA medal for math in three years. Go Kevin!




Three things.

mac pro

1) MacBook Pro: got her today + can’t wait to open her up + play.

2) Been lagging on my on my posts because I’ve been busy + sick. Haven’t had much sleep + went to Disneyland on a school field trip this past weekend. Rode the bus with 44 kids + did not get much sleep on the bus. I sorta slept, but not well. So now, I’m sick with a terrible cough. Looking forward to catching up on some sleep this weekend.

3) My Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) team won several awards at last week’s competition. Denise + Iliana took first in crystal growing + Dung placed third in the mousetrap vehicle. It was awesome to see these students win because they’ve never won a medal before. Sofia brought home a first place medal in Speak Up! + the Pal brothers placed second in the egg drop competition. Wayne + Vinna placed second in the manila bridge competition. Congratulations guys! I am so proud of you!

The team is now going to the regional competition in Chico + if we place, we will be heading to Baltimore, MD for the national competition! Much excitement in the air in my classroom these days!