May Days

Some stuff happening around here in May.

With a very official measurement, someone crossed the 6′ mark. Now every day he checks to see if he’s taller than his father. Not yet dude, not yet.

All things Sonic.

The school had a carnival after school and this boy and his friends ate lots of pizza pizza.

Hike with Amy.

We spent Mother’s Day at the beach with take out lunch. Quinn now takes pride in being able to carry everything — I like this new habit.

Happy 22 years to Don and I. Not the most flattering picture, but Don likes to call this my “upside down smile”. Something I inherited from my dad and I sometimes see Quinn do the same.

Don and I completed the Conejo Open Space hiking challenge by hiking 10 trails. This one is near our house and we’ve done it a bunch of times, but we always enjoy finding new hikes on the challenge.

Quinn’s school band participated in the All District Band Concert at Westlake High School. There were a couple of middle schools, high schools, and elementary schools participating. I was away but Don did great taking pics. Quinn’s first tuba tutor told me that there are scholarship opportunities for tuba players — I kinda laughed it off. But I’ve since learned that it is a thing.

8th Grade Awards

It’s hard to believe that Quinn is almost done with Middle School. On to Westlake High School next year! The middle school hosts a handful of special events for the 8th graders and one of them is the Awards Ceremony.

Quinn got 4 awards. The President’s Education Award is for students that maintained a GPA of 3.5 or greater all 3 years of middle school. He also received an award for Honors Math, Band, and Honors Social Studies. These awards are given if you have a 95% or better grade or if the teacher thinks you have earned it (I’m not sure of the exact criteria). Quinn currently holds a 99.2% in Honors Algebra. Such a smart kid.

His 5 second introduction.

Quinn with some of his teachers.

Let’s do a then and now with his principal Mr. Klinger. From the first day of 6th grade to 8th grade. What a difference 3 years makes!

Quinn and his awesome group of friends.

Unfortunately I missed the ceremony but Don did a great job taking pictures and sending them to me real time. One comment that Don made was how supportive all the kids are of each other. Of course the friends group were very happy for each other, but Don noticed how all the 8th grade students seemed so genuinely happy when their classmates won and award. It’s been a great 3 years.

The Palouse

I just returned from 5 nights in Washington State for a photography workshop. We travelled in an area called The Palouse which is in Eastern Washington near the Idaho state line. It’s an area of beautiful green rolling hills and is called The Breadbasket of American because it is the largest producer of wheat.

I have hundreds of photos through sort through and will post more later. But I will post one of the first pictures I took using my iphone. It was a great way to start the workshop. One very cool thing I learned about double rainbows is the 2nd rainbow is inverted. Notice it doesn’t go red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet but is the opposite.

Visit from Pam

I was so happy that Pam came out for a visit. We got out for a nice hike on a cool day.

We made a trip up to Santa Barbara. We didn’t have alot of time but we did a little shopping and then had some oysters on the wharf. Gotta have our sister oysters!

Another day, another beach. Lunch at Paradise Cove with Barb, Amy C., Margaret C., Pam, and Amy.

We brought our beach chairs and sat on the beach for a while after lunch.

Her last day here was nice and warm so we had a fun family swim.

You might have seen this on FB. Everyone is shrinking around Quinn! What a difference 3 years makes. We loved having you here sis!

8th Grade DC Spring Break

Wow what a week! A rite of passage for 8th graders across the country. Our trip was coordinated by a teacher at Quinn’s school but was managed by a company called World Strides. I wasn’t 100% sure we wanted to go but Don still remembered his 8th grade DC trip and encouraged us to do it…so off we went.

We met at the school on Thursday at 5:15 pm to catch the bus to LAX. We had a red eye to DC and the kids were encouraged to get some sleep but it was a 4 hour flight with very little sleep. Upon arrival at DC the kids were excited and tired.

This was our itinerary for the week. The idea is to leave very little free time and get back to the hotel late so the kids don’t have an opportunity for monkey business. The items in yellow are firm appointments that we couldn’t change but everything else was flexible. For example we were scheduled to see the White House on Monday but the Easter Egg Roll was scheduled for that day so we did the White House another day.

There were 72 people total with 55 kids and 17 adults. These awesome shirts and hoodies said LC/DC to represent Los Cerritos (Middle School) in DC for the 20th trip. They were a great conversation starter and we got alot of questions about them.

We had 2 buses and the kids were broken into groups of four with a chaperone for frequent head counts and check ins. Each bus had a Tour Guide and they knew where and when to stop and were able to think on their feet if we needed to change plans or find a bathroom.

Day 1 first stop US Air Force Memorial. It was great to get outside and stretch our legs. This large memorial designates the path the plane travelled on 9/11 before flying into the Pentagon. These 5 kids stuck together the whole trip. Note: I have lots of pictures to post and will post them in these “galleries”. If you want to see them larger, you can click on them and then scroll through each gallery.

Next stop, Eisenhower Memorial and then on to breakfast at the Hard Rock Cafe. They opened early for us and as we were leaving another school group was arriving. On to the MLK Memorial and FDR Memorial. It was great having a guide filling in all the little details. We were just past the cherry blossoms blooming which is probably good because it wasn’t as crowded.

Then we got on the buses and drove to Charlottesville, VA. We had lunch at a very cool place called Michies Tavern where they specialize in Fried Chicken and Southern Comfort food. It was a great start.

We had dinner at Red Robin and then headed back to VA to check into our hotel. Each night the kids were given 15-20 minutes to get ice and buy snacks and then were not allowed to leave their rooms. There was a chaperone meeting every night to discuss wake up procedures, breakfast, and preview the activities the next day. Most nights we were in bed around 11 pm. A guard was hired to sit in the hallway from 10 pm – 5 am.

You can imagine how easy it was to wake up the kids at 6 am each day. Ha! However, I was assigned to the best group of girls. We were supposed to go into their room and not leave until everyone was out of bed. But my group of girls and I worked out a plan that I would text them every morning and they would text me back they were awake. I did have to knock on their door the first morning but after that they got themselves up every morning. Two of them were on Quinn’s Odyssey team. Lex (in green) took a bullet for this group and roomed with another group of girls.

Day 2 we were off to Mount Vernon. The benefit of the 6 am wake up call is that we are the first to arrive.

The Smithsonian Air & Space Museum was closed for renovations so instead we went to the Udvar-Hazy Museum. Hundreds of aircraft were housed in this huge hangar.

Then off to the Mall where the kids had the choice of 3 Smithsonian Museums: Natural History, American History, or Gallery of Art. They had 1 hour and had to go in groups of 4 but without a chaperone. Many of the moms, including myself, weren’t super comfortable with this. I told them I would follow them but they could do whatever they wanted. Lex wanted to go to the Gallery of Art and the boys agreed to go.

Dinner and then on to Vietnam Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Korean Memorial, and Iwa Jim Memorial.

Day 3: We arrived at Capitol Hill at 8 am on Easter morning so we had the place to ourselves. Again, it was great having the guide to fill in all the little details.

The 9/11 Memorial at the Pentagon was really moving. There is so much significance in all the little details. Each person who died has a bench and they are organized by age. If you are facing the Pentagon while reading the name, the person worked at the Pentagon. If you facing away from the Pentagon the person was on the plane. This bench is for General Timothy Maude who my cousin met with at the Pentagon the day before the attack. I didn’t get a picture from this angle but you can see the large sculpture designating the route of the plane. this was one of my favorite stops on this trip.

On to Arlington Cemetery. The kids were loud & crazy on the bus but were told that they needed to be quiet and show respect at the Cemetery, especially since there might be family members visiting loved ones on Easter, and they were great.

Einstein memorial where it’s said if you rub his nose you will gain intelligence. Jefferson Memorial.

Day 4 starts at Fords Theatre and the Peterson House across the street where Lincoln actually died and then on to the Washington Monument.

The National Archives was a brief visit where we went into the Rotunda to see the original Bill of Rights, Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution. The documents are large and faded but very cool to see the originals.

One of their best friends who wasn’t able to go on the trip always wears a NASA hat. Quinn bought hats for all of them and they plan to wear them on Monday, the first day back to school.

Our DC tour was done and it is on to Gettysburg. It was cold and rainy and actually snowing when we reached Gettysburg. The kids were outside the buses dancing in the snow. We had a dinner mix up but ended up at a fabulous buffet with last minute reservations for 72.

Then it was on to the Farnsworth House, one of the most Haunted Houses in the country. If you ask any of the kids, this was probably their favorite part of the trip….Ghost Stories. We started in the basement where the host told us about the ghosts that haunt the house. Let’s just say the kids were easily swayed and were freaking out. Quinn thought it was mostly BS but was curious about it. On the top floor a woman used dowsing rods to identify people when the kids said a name. Quinn said the name Fitzgerald, the nickname for his friend Thomas, and the dowsing rod pointed to Thomas. The kids loved, loved it…and had nightmares.

Day 5 is our final day. We had a 2 hour bus tour of the battlefields and our tour guide was fantastic! She kept us all very engaged. In fact, she said that she was so impressed by our kids that she was going to look at the school’s website and email the principal to let him know how impressed she was with our kids.

Then back to DC for our flight home. It’s amazing how many things we were able to fit into 5 days. I am so glad I went. The kids were happy to spend so much time with their friends and I know some learning seeped into their brains. I made a bunch of new friends with the other moms and we all have memories for a lifetime. Exhausted and Grateful , for sure.

Antelope Poppy Preserve

Every year that we have a little bit of rain, I make a point of visiting the Antelope Poppy Preserve. It’s about a 90 minute drive from our house but well worth it. This year I took Barbara with me.

Barb under a Joshua Tree near the visitors center.

It’s not a superbloom year but there were alot of poppies. You have to hit it at the right time before they wilt from the heat. It was a great day with lots of lovely sights.

Spring Band Concert

Look at this tall and handsome tuba player in his new band shirt for the LCMS Spring Concert!

The program for the concert. You can see on the 3rd page the kids in the honor band were recognized.

And they were also recognized during the concert.

The advanced band getting ready to play. These are all 7th and 8th graders. Because there is a need for more deep base, a high school tuba player joined the performance. Mr. Freed noted that he could hear Quinn play louder than the high schooler (that’s a good thing).

The tuba player with his very, very proud family.

You might have seen this on FB. Quinn’s elementary school band director was there to see all the kids play. Ms. Janine is so kind and just a bundle of positive energy. Some things have changed.

Here are videos of the songs they performed. They blew us away once again.

Some March Stuff

It’s been a while since I’ve posted so I will publish a bunch of fun stuff from the first half of March.

Lots of hiking happened in March and this day I went with my friend/designer Janice. We did a 3 mile loop on a gorgeous day.

Amy and I do something together once a week — this day we went into LA to the LACMA.

Don and I are once again doing the local hiking challenge. It’s a great way to hike new trails. And the wildflowers are just gorgeous this time of year.

A Saturday in Santa Barbara to see a special Van Gogh exhibit. Plus lunch and ice cream and the ocean.

Some other stuff.

L-R, top to bottom. Eating weird candy at the mall with Elias, Quinn’s fave breakfast burrito, recognition from his teacher, beating Mae at Scrabble on his Tuesday after school visit, heading in to Thousand Oaks High School for Tuba, sitting with Sonic on Sonics favorite couch.

I’ve been hiking with Sonic most afternoons before dinner on the trails behind our house. Some of my captures.

We discovered a new restaurant called Cork Dork where Don really enjoys the wine flights.

So that’s gets me through the first half of March. More to come later….

Santa Monica “Night” Market

Asia is known for their night markets where street vendors get together to sell food and goods. This past weekend we attended a “night” market in Santa Monica, which opened at 1 pm.

First stop, All Dat Dim Sum and TaoBoa Pork Belly Buns.

Once we had our fill of savory treats, we moved on to the sweets. Quinn got himself a waffle ice cream bowl and Don was kind enough to oblige me in this funny picture with a ‘HoneyCone’.

On the way home, Don took a detour to one of our favorite spots that overlooks the valleys in one direction and the coast in the other direction.

Science Fair

In Quinn’s honors science class, each student had to create a science fair project. Quinn’s project was to determine which paper airplane design could carry the most weight over a distance of 25 feet.

First up, collecting data.

And then putting it all together. He finished the ‘bones’ of the project before the long weekend and then spent 3 days out of his 4 day weekend polishing it up and putting it on his board. But it turned out great!

His teacher held a Science Fair Night where we were able to see all of the projects. We were surprised to see about 5 – 6 other paper airplane based projects (of course Q’s was the best 🙂 It was a great experience learning how to present data and information. And happy to report he got an A+.