Category Archives: Firsts

Graduated Kindergarten

Isabelle finished kindergarten and has started the first grade!

I have a first grader!

I thought it would be a nice memory for her to have graduation pictures, so I got a little graduation outfit for her. I wrapped up one of the little certificates of completion from Sonlight and she got her own little graduation photo shoot.

Isabelle thought it was awesome. She loved her certificate and kept putting on her gown and cap throughout the day. And she proudly told everyone she met about how she graduated. :)

Graduated kindergarten

Of course Batman wanted in on the pictures.

Batman wanted in on the graduation pictures

Batman in a diaper that is. :)

Batman in a diaper

And what is she doing with school this year? Well, we are trying something new. We aren’t doing Sonlight. I enjoyed a lot of things about Sonlight. I liked being able to open their binder and knowing exactly what we were doing for the day and the rest of the week. I liked having mostly everything on hand right then and there. I liked that we have all these books that I can use with Nathan when he’s old enough. And I liked that we were reading together.

But sometimes the reading was too much, even though I love books. You know, some days were hard trying to get things done. I know Sonlight lists one of the reasons not to buy Sonlight being, compelled to do everything their Instructor’s Guide mentions. But if I bought it, I had to use it all! It was easier when I let go. And if I were to use Sonlight for years, where would all the books go? I’d be overrun with homeschool books in no time flat, because you know I’d want to keep them all.

When this school year came up I decided not to get Sonlight because of the reasons above.

So, this year, we are going with the Head of the Class. I can’t remember how I came across them. But it’s free, so I figure if we don’t like it, we can always go with something else. How am I liking them? Their website is a little user UNfriendly for parents. When we started, I wasn’t quite sure how the day to day worked. Even now, to view the curriculum by day, I have to search for it, clicking around a dozen times to find the right place. And strangely,the e-Book layout isn’t sorted by day.

But, I know I felt that way about Sonlight, in the beginning, feeling unsure about what I was doing. But I got used to them and found it quite simple to teach from their curriculum. Let’s hope I feel that way about the Head of the Class because Isabelle really enjoys it.

This morning, before I even started breakfast, she asked for “SCHOOL! SCHOOL! SCHOOL! Can I do school while you make breakfast mama?” And so I let her. She logged on easily and started clicking away. Surprisingly, that’s one of the things I am not loving. I feel like she is interacting with the computer more than she is with me. I’m used to having our reading time together.

Well, we’ll see how it goes. It’s still new to us and I’m probably doing it wrong. But I digress. I didn’t mean for this post to become a review of Sonlight or a review of the Head of the Class.

I didn’t attend my high school graduation or university graduation so for someone who doesn’t celebrate graduations, I’m surprised at how seeing Isabelle in a graduation outfit really tugged at my heart. Look at my FIRST GRADER!

Hawaii for Twenty Years, Part Two

Our room
I know it’s been ages since I wrote about Hawaii. But this post has been sitting half written and I didn’t want to just chuck it. So…back to Hawaii.

Before our trip, I had all these plans of places that we wanted to go. I wanted to go to the places that Wendy had mentioned like Pali Lookout, Diamond Hike, and Hanauma Bay. And I also had things down like snorkeling for Isabelle and finding sea turtles.

But in the end we mostly relaxed at the beach, which made it a lot easier since being close to the resort made nap time a breeze. Speaking of the resort, I didn’t tell you where we we stayed. We were at Aulani, a Disney hotel. It was beautiful and very kid friendly. There was so much to do there.

They had a kids club, called Aunty’s Beach House, adventures, classes, and tons of free activities, like movies out on the lawn and storytelling by the fire pit. We didn’t do it all, not even close.

But that is probably because Isabelle wanted to swim and swim and swim. That’s what we did the day after the Polynesian Cultural Center. We hung out at the resort on the beach. We spent all day there except for a nap in our room and then back down to the beach for the sunset.
Our room

Our room






Ko Olina beachUntitled


UntitledAulani at night


Ko Olina beach at night

On our fourth day there (oh my how did four days fly by so fast in Hawaii? It felt like we were barely there), Isabelle woke up earlier than Nathan so me and her checked out Aunty’s beach house. How it works is, family time is only in the morning and everyone is welcome. But then after family time is, check in time and you leave the kids there to play. They had games, crafts, a playground, and just so much for kids to do.

We had fun there for a bit then when Nathan woke up, him and Alan joined us. We hit the road and got malasadas from Leonard’s. You may remember these instagram pictures. They are from Aunty’s beach house and Leonard’s.

UntitledMalasadas from Leonard's

So, where did we go? The beach, of course. I got to cross something off my list, Hanauma Bay. We met Wendy and her adorable daughter, Summer, there. And we got to cross something off Isabelle’s list, snorkeling. While I had a great time chatting with Wendy, Isabelle and Alan hit the water and got to see fish!! I wish I had prescription snorkeling goggle things so I could see fish. Where does one even get something like that?
Humuhumunukunukuapua'a, Hawaii's state fish, sculpture

Isabelle snorkeling

Some of the fish Isabelle saw


Us with Wendy and Summer
How cute is Summer wearing my sunhat?!

Hanauma Bay
We had a great day with them. I only wish they lived closer. Well, technically they did move closer since our trip to Hawaii but they aren’t anywhere close enough to hang out with. But anyhoo, how adorable is that picture of Summer and Nathan trying to hold hands on our long walk up from Hanauma Bay?

And sorry to say this but I am ending this post again. I think all the pictures make this post super long. I’ll talk about our last few days there in another post.

Insta-Catch Up

I disappeared for 2 weeks. But if you saw my Instapress plugin in the sidebar, you would have seen what I’ve been up to lately. Like: July the 4th. We celebrated by bringing the kids to see fireworks. Nathan loved them. Isabelle said they were too loud.
Fireworks here we come Made it to the fireworks just in time

Then I went to Girls Camp to celebrate Brenda’s 40th birthday. I don’t think I can write anything to truly describe what an awesome experience that was. All I can say now about it is, it was very much like camp. I say that in the sense where you feel homesick but you also enjoy it so much and come away with these great memories that you will look back on fondly.
Ice cream truck at the farmer's market Happy birthday Brenda!
Little visitor to girls camp Girls camp breakfast
Untitled Crafty
Untitled Untitled
Untitled Dinner
Cake by candlelight Had a great couple of days with a group of wonderful woman laughing, talking, and eating but I am beyond happy to be home
The last picture there is with me and the kids after I came home. I wrote: Had a great couple of days with a group of wonderful woman (damn instagram can’t correct typos that’s supposed to be women) laughing, talking, and eating but I am beyond happy to be home. And I did have so much fun but it was sooooo hard for me. It was more than homesick. That was my first real time away from the kids.

Yes, Isabelle is almost 7 and that was my first time away. I know that sounds unusual. But the kids have never had a babysitter. They’ve never had grandparents watch them or any other relatives or our friends. It’s almost always been the two of us. (If you don’t count the time my friend, Olinda, watched Isabelle while we rode the Indiana Jones ride. And the longest hour and a half I have yet to talk about where Isabelle was watched by someone else in Hawaii.)

We had been trying to figure out what to do for Girls Camp for months and months. I knew Isabelle would be ok. It was Nathan I was worried about. He’s used to falling asleep next to me. So, we kicked around the idea of getting a motel close by. But we didn’t.

Then Alan tried putting Nathan down the night before Girls Camp. Nathan cried and cried. Then Alan told me to hide and told Nathan I wasn’t home. To which Nathan ran around the house crying and looking for me. After what felt like forever, he quieted down so I snuck into the bedroom. But he was still awake and when he saw me he was so happy, saying, “it’s mama! It’s mama! She’s HOME!!”, with the biggest smile on his little tear stained face.

So, you can imagine how hard it was for me to leave for Girls Camp. I almost called Brenda to say I changed my mind. But I didn’t. And you know, Nathan did fine. Alan set up a tent in the living room and they had their own little camp out. He went to sleep just fine and slept through the entire night. And then the next day Alan pampered the kids bringing them to a big bouncy house place.

It was a really good idea for me to go. I got to celebrate a sweet friend’s birthday. I made new friends. And, now, I know next time I have a chance to go away, the kids will be fine and I’ll have an awesome time.

After Girls Camp, Alan got a vacation week off. So we visited with my sister one day. The cousins all played together.
Untitled Cousins
Cousins Me and daddy
Sisters Goodbye San Francisco

And we also spent a day at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.
Surrounded by trees Untitled
Untitled City building
We've seen a few of these on the beach. Are they salps? Knocked out

You know, basically hung out. And there, you’re all caught up with the past two weeks. Now if only I could catch up with everything else that easily. :)

Hawaii for Twenty Years, Part One

It has been two months since we went to Hawaii. TWO MONTHS! But I’m sort of glad it’s taken me this long to share the pictures. It brings it all back, which is good and bad. I am remembering it fondly but it makes me wish we were there now.

It was the kids’ first plane ride. I was worried about how they would do, well, specifically Nathan. I wasn’t worried about Isabelle. She had been talking about the plane ride for weeks. Sitting on the runway she whispered to Alan that she was scared. But she was also sooo excited at the same time.
Isabelle all excited on the plane

In preparing for kids, bouncing off the sides of the plane bored, I overpacked fun things to do: books, games, cards. The kids ended up not playing with any of those. They happily used our gadgets instead. Well, mostly happily. Nathan didn’t want to be in his car seat. He wanted to be with me so he was a bit fussy. The only way he was happy was not in his seat. That did mean I was worried though. With every bump we held onto him for dear life.

Nathan not using his seat

So, did I mention why this trip to Hawaii? We were there to celebrate our twenty year wedding anniversary! Though I’ve been to Hawaii, once, when I was small, I don’t really remember much of it. So, it was a new experience for everyone. Before our trip, I emailed a reader, Wendy, who met us out there and recommended things for us to see and places to eat. Thank you, Wendy!!

We landed in Honolulu a little after noon. After a long wait for our rental car and a short drive to our resort, we checked into our room. After unpacking we walked around downstairs and immediately Isabelle announced she wanted to go swimming. Of course. So, that is exactly what we did.


Lazy river

The next day, we went to the Polynesian Cultural Center with a stop at Giovanni’s shrimp truck. You may remember me sharing these instagram pictures. So yummy!

The Polynesian Cultural Center was the bit I remembered loving from when I was little. I remembered hands on things to do. But all the kids wanted to do was: feed the fish, chase chickens around, and paddle in a canoe. Well, Isabelle paddled. Nathan tried to paddle but his kind of paddling just slowed us down. We mostly wandered around aimlessly. We had fun but we didn’t do much.

Canoeing Canoeing

As we were walking we overheard an elderly couple talking about their first time there. They didn’t do much either. This time, though, they had taken a guided tour and were saying how much more they got to see and do with a guide. So, if you ever go and chasing chickens isn’t your thing, maybe it’s best to go with a guide. :)

One of the sweet moments that stuck out from that day was when it started to rain. It was hot and sunny and then all of a sudden it was hot and rainy. Isabelle confusedly said, “why am I getting wet?” Ha ha ha! We’re not used to rain and heat here.

At the Polynesian Cultural Center

After our wandering, we went to the luau. Nathan didn’t actually make it to the food part. He fell asleep with all the music and emcee talking. He even stayed asleep when all the couples celebrating anniversaries and honeymoons, that included us, were asked to stand up. One of the couples was there on their 50 year anniversary. Awwww! We all had to look into each others eyes, which me and Alan did across the table, and repeat some loving phrases (can’t remember what it was, it’s been two months too long for my memory).

After that, the couples went up onto the stage for a dance. I think Alan was very happy Nathan was asleep at that point. :) A young man working there said he could take Nathan so we could go up for the dance. Isabelle really wanted us to but I could just imagine Nathan waking up in some stranger’s arms. Not good. I much prefer our moment, surrounded by our little family watching Alan holding Nathan.

Luau at the Polynesian Cultural CenterNathan didn't make it to the food

We ended the night there with the show, Hā: the Breath of Life. On hindsight it may not have been the best idea. Isabelle loved it but it was too long of a day for a two year old. We had great seats right up front, so close we could poke a performer but even that didn’t distract Nathan. Alan might have ended up taking him out before the fire part. I can’t remember…two months ago.

And I think I’ll end this post here. More next time.

First Trophy

I was going through old pictures on my computer and I found this one.

Bowling league first place trophy!

It was taken in January, not that old right? :| It’s Isabelle with her bowling trophy from her homeschool league.

You know, she almost didn’t join the league. And some days, when she was bowling, she wasn’t having the best time. There were a couple of days where she was on the verge of tears. But she stuck it out. She kept saying she wanted to go back. And she finished AND her and her teammate got FIRST PLACE!

Just had to share that. :)