Tag Archives: learning

A lost utopia

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A lost utopia

Before you enter California’s beautiful Sequoia National Park, there is a lost historic town that has little left of it. In the beautiful Kaweah Mountains, lays the remains to a lost utopia.

Free Library

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Free Library

The Children’s Discovery Museum

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The Children’s Discovery Museum

We took the kids to my favorite museum in San Jose. It’s hands on and educational but you would never guess it by the kids laughing the whole day. I think its safe to say, we have a new favorite spot to visit!
If you enjoy this video please subscribe to our YouTube channel Taking California & hit like! Right now its only my daughter liking our videos because she feels bad.

 

The Calderon’s take San Francisco

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The Calderon’s take San Francisco

In mid February we took a day trip to San Francisco to visit the city and The California Academy of Science. Growing up in the bay area, I was able to visit this museum and many more on school field trips and day trips with my Dad. I want to take the children to all the amazing sites I was able to go to in my life. Any time Victor and I are in the city, whether its down south in Los Angeles or up north in San Francisco we try to set aside a day to take the kids some where they have never been and to a explore things that we don’t have where we live  in the central valley.

The last time I went to the San Francisco Academy of Science was in the mid 90’s. Since then the museum had gone through a $488 million dollar renovation in the Golden Gate Park.

It was like an all new adventure for Victor and I. The museum was completely different from anything I remembered growing up. Immediately to the right is a 90′ spiral dome with a living rainforest. walking in it you feel the humidity while thousands of butterflies and free flying birds are fluttering around.

Below you can take an elevator down to the flooded Amazon and walk through a 25′ tunnel with the rainforest above. The kids loved watching the fish all around them and I loved watching their reaction.

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We saw taxidermy animals in their natural habitat

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Candid photo/accidently took a picture but Nina Val was sneeking back there

Candid photo/accidently took a picture but Nina Val was sneeking back there

The museum also had a huge coral reef aquarium that offered a show with a reef diver. While we didn’t watch the show, we weren’t disappointed at all of the other things there were to take part in.

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Capturing fun

Capturing fun

A whole new world

A whole new world

One of my favorite things doing at the museum when I was a kid, was going on the


earthquake simulator. California is known for earthquakes, but (knock on wood) we really don’t get them as often as people may think. In 1906 San Francisco was hit with a 7.8 earthquake. Any time anyone brings up earthquakes this is the one that al earthquakes are based on. The quake resulted in 3,000 deaths and $524 million dollars in property loss and lasted 1 minute. The city burned for 3 days and destroyed 500 city blocks.

Another major earthquake to hit California was the 1989 Loma Prieta that lasted 15 seconds at a 6.9 on the seismic scale.. This resulted in 60 deaths and wide spread damage. I was nearly 5 years old and it was my first earthquake. It hit in Santa Cruz, 60 miles from San Francisco and was felt in San Jose where I lived. It felt like it lasted much longer than 15 seconds as my mom and I hid under the large dining room table.

Now that I caught you up on a mini earthquake lesson you can only imagine emotion of going through the simulator and having semi experience each earthquake all over again. Instead of having posters to read and standing on a platform that shakes, the  new updated version takes you into a planetarium like room to explain how an earthquake works. After you moved into the self proclaimed infamous Shake House. Hold on to the rail because you will first experience a touch of the1906 quake. The simulator doesn’t last as long as the actual quake did nor can it move up and down like the real one, only side to side. Second up is the 1989 Loma Prieta and as I’m writing just realized how historic it was that 26 years later my daughter was nearly the same age I was experiencing that earthquake. While she’s  never been awake to experience an earth (we’ve had ones while we both have slept) Emery thought it was a fun little ride. A much different reaction I experience living it.

(video in my Instagram GypsyWidow 13 weeks ago from this date)

There was so much to do at the museum but we ran out of time and I didn’t want to run our of daylight before visiting the iconic Golden Gate bridge.

With the mad driving skills of Valerie we made it to Crissy Field at sunset. A little fact that all mothers learn quickly is be prepared with extra everything. I know this unspoken rule, I’m pretty good with it and I know San Francisco is freezing at night. Did I pack warm clothes? DUH. Did I bring them? No I did not. What I failed to mention peed his shorts on the way to S.F. It has never has never happened before but now that we were out I couldn’t have him wet and in shorts. As luck would have it this conductor pants were in the trunk from the day before, and it all worked out.

We got some great shots of the kids enjoying themselves

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Their personalities shinning through

Their personalities shinning through

some of me and the husby

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I’ve always wanted to go to this part of San Fransisco and take pictures with the bridge in the background. I’m so happy that we made it just in time!

 It was Emery and Carlos’ first time in the city so we went down to the peir to grab sone authentic San Fransisco food at Boudin.

Cookie cheers with my little man

Cookie cheers with my little man

The highlight of my night turned out to not to be those bridge picures i’ve wanted for years but forgetting Emery has no idea about street entertainers and watching what she thought was a statue come life after putting a dollar in  the can. She turned around so fast as soon as he began speaking. The man was nice enough to offer a picture of them two together. The bridge pictures I love but the street performer made a lasting memorie for me.

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2013 Recap

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2013 was a year to remember. It brought happiness, joy, love, and many memories. Overall, I think it was an amazing year and it will be very hard to top it next year. To start off, our baby boy Carlos Martin was born just 17 days after the year began! What a way to kick-start a new year! He grew so fast we couldn’t believe it! Every few months he had a new wardrobe to fit into, was making us laugh, and keeping us on our toes. Our chubby little boy grew right in front of us, and in some ways I haven’t realized his major changes until I look back on photos from just a few months back.

Meeting Carlos for the first time

Meeting Carlos for the first time

My husband and I celebrated our fourth year of being married.

Another year bites the dust

Another year bites the dust

Emery Ava turned 3 years old in addition to being a big sis. She was given a birthday to remember with pony rides, rabbits, goats, chickens, and a mini horse all in the front yard. She learned how to write her name and spell it out. She has excelled in her home school studies with me and I couldn’t be more proud of her.

3rd birthday!

3rd birthday!

We took our annual beach trip! Carlos did amazing! I was worried that a three-hour car ride would be too much for a little baby but he proved me wrong. Emery loved making sand castles and Victor found a sea-snail that we all held. On this trip Emery also got her first bee sting. Luckily she is not allergic (what a way to find out if she was) and she handled it like a troop! In no time she was back out there enjoying herself.

Beach bum baby

Beach bum baby

Sea snail anyone?

Sea snail anyone?

Victor turned double digits and is nearly in his pre teens (God help us all).

In October our dear friends Valerie and Bryan became Carlos’ Godparents and will forever be apart of our lives.

Nino Luda & Nina Val

Nino Luda & Nina Val

For Thanksgiving Carlos was old enough and had plenty of teeth to dig in to some celebratory turkey.

In December the two little kids and I took a surprise trip to Disneyland! Carlos turned 11 months on our trip.

Photo op!

Photo op!

A few days later Christmas came and more than anything I have the most fun watching the kids open up their presents.
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This year seemed to go by so fast! Every month brought new and wonderful things.
And while I don’t personally put pressure on my self to inevitably fail committing to a new years resolution I did feel the urge to do something different with myself this year, and for the first time I ordered out of my comfort zone and tried all new things I normally wouldn’t have. Instead of my regular and safe choice of a burger, I tried fish tacos for the first time. Apparently I had eel (still a sick idea to me), I’ve tried a few things I didn’t like, Boba drinks are not for me but over all it was a success!
I expect 2014 will be just as amazing with my family by my side. I only pray for continued health for all my friends and family (everyone really) and wealth (enough) to get us by and a few things for what we wish. I want to have more patience, because all of my patience this year has been used up with learning how to deal with three kids. I want to get back on track with learning and reading and continue to make my children’s life fun.
May everyone’s year be fruitful for them in more ways than they can fathom, be safe out there always and read on into this new year!

Thanksgiving crafts

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Another Holiday is here! The house is filled with Fall and Thanksgiving decorations. The mantel is done up, the outside of our home has our dried up corn stocks from the summer garden and pumpkins next to them. The children have been colored Thanksgiving coloring pages, made felt hand turkeys and we made one giant turkey with all of the kids hands.

I printed coloring pages off the internet from my Pinterest board. It’s not hard to find a site that has Thanksgiving drawings (or any Holiday or theme) for your children to do. A simple Google search can lead you to a million photos and Thanksgiving games such as word search or connect the dots. Last year you may remember from my blog, I printed out lots of different coloring sheets for the kids to color before the food was ready. It’s a fun little project to have them do all together before the bird is done.

Coloring Thanksgiving pages and activities

Coloring Thanksgiving pages and activities

I’m starting a simple Holiday tradition with the children. Every Holiday I want to trace their hands and save it into our Holiday box, so I can watch their little hands grow year by year. It started with the Halloween spiders, and continuing with the Thanksgiving turkey hands.

Turkey hands

Turkey hands.

You can also use puff paint and give your turkeys eyes or have the kids designs on the wings with different colors. Just like the Halloween spiders, you can also punch a hole up top and add string and place your turkeys on your mantel or anywhere else you would like to show them off at in your home.

The backs of the turkey to mark who's hand is who's when they get older

The backs of the turkey to mark whose hand is who’s when they get older

I thought what if it was cute to trace the children’s hands and make one big turkey. I used the babies little foot for the turkeys body. Tracing a baby’s hand is pretty impossible, let alone trying to hold their foot still and having to trace it or have someone else trace it. I discovered flour! I rubbed flour on the bottom of his foot and put his little foot on the felt. It left a nice a little imprint of his foot for me to trace. It made things so much more easy and less of a traumatic experience.

Flour on the foot. I will never struggle tracing another child's hand or foot again!

Flour on the foot. I will never struggle tracing another child’s hand or foot again!

All of the kids hands into one big turkey! From oldest to youngest making the turkeys wings

All of the kids hands into one big turkey! From oldest to youngest making the turkeys wings

After they had their individual hand I used that one cut out as a template to make all their other hands for the turkey’s wings. You can get more creative and save it in a frame.

Enjoy some Thanksgiving activities with the kids before the Holiday is over, and don’t forget to follow my Pinterest for some good ideas on family fun & follow us on Instagram at gypsywidow!

A day at the Fire Station

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Every year our local Hanford, Fire Station has an open house. Usually we aren’t able to make it, because it’s the same weekend we make our trip to Roseville to visit my Dad and head out to Apple Hill . Because we were not able to go up North this year, I excited to take the kids to this event.
Growing up my Dad would take my brother and I to things like this. I love to pass the experiences down to my kids. Emery has really been asking questions about Fire trucks and Ambulances. Any time we see one on the road we talk about where they might be headed or what the kind of things the vehicle has inside of it. The Hanford Fire Station’s open house is really  a hands on experience. With guidance the kids are able to work the fire hose and put out a “fire” (a red vinyl sheet) in the window. How often does a person get to say they’ve done that! There’s an Ambulance the kids can go in and a Paramedic will talk to the kids about what the different things inside are and used for. Even I learn about a machine that can take a picture of your heart. Pretty cool stuff.
Emery sat in the front seat of a Highway Patrol car, and sat in the Fire Truck’s front and back row. The Fire Fighter’s handed out goodie bags with pencils, magnets stickers and fire safety coloring books.
This year the Fire Station also had, Kid Print. It’s a card with your child’s home address, measurements, photo, thumb print and any birth marks or allergies that he or she may have. The information is then added to the Police Stations data base on record. It was free and totally worth waiting in line for. I’m going to put my daughter’s card in her backpack she carries around.
After we got our card we took a little tour into the Fire Station to experience how a Fire Fighter lives. We saw their living room, kitchen, rooms and gym. Last but not least we had to ride, “Freddie” a little red tour truck, you can see around town from now and now. Freddie took us all through down town and dropped us off at the Carousel. We had no idea we would be getting dropped off. It was a nice little surprise. Despite all the amazing pictures and the fun I know the kids had, for me this was the best part Because, every time I drive down town Emery will always ask and talk about the one time last year she got to ride the carousel. I feel bad that I we don’t stop, but I never see anyone on them or a man standing at the machine waiting for riders. So this was THE PERFECT way to end our day. She was so happy! She was laughing and yelling. A lady in front of us kept turning around because Emery was so happy. Pure happiness from a child is the best thing on Earth for me. This was also the Carlos’ first time on a ride. He seemed to enjoy it as he sat down with his Dad.
I think I will start going to Apple Hill the following week so we can make the Fire Station’s open house every year.

Open House 2013

Open House 2013

 

Just hanging out on Fire Truck

Just hanging out on a Fire Truck

 

Driving the Fire Truck

Driving the Fire Truck

 

Using the fire hose For Video check out, Gypsywidow on Instagram

Using the fire hose
For Video check out, Gypsywidow on Instagram

 

Inside the Ambulance

Inside the Ambulance

 

Taking a ride through town on "Freddie".

Taking a ride through town on “Freddie”.

Ending the day at the Hanford Carousel

Ending the day at the Hanford Carousel. For the video on this & more check out my Instagram – Gypsywidow

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carlos’ Baptismal

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This Saturday was a special day for my son, Carlos. It was the day he was accepted into the Church and Baptized as a Roman Catholic. Though the people I know and love are all special to me in my tight-knit circle, I chose two wonderful people to become his Godparents.

Valerie, has been a close friend of mine since Junior year of High School when I moved to Elk Grove, California. It’s been ten years with her in my life. I love her family as much as I love my own, they are loving and connected to the Church. Valerie will be able to guide Carlos in his journey in finding himself and connecting with the Church.
The Godfather, Bryan, is someone my husband and I have known for about 8 years. He was introduced to us at separate times by my late cousin Martin. He’s a trust worthy friend, another person with great morals and understands in hard work and how to give direction in a child’s life. He’s an amazing father, and can be another strong male role model to my son.
These two people have been part of my life for the past 10 years and I want them to officially never be out of me and my children’s life.
The ceremony took place Saturday, October 5th. There were about 30 families, with each to their own pew. The children all did well, but it was evident nap time was upon us. Around the end the children began to fuss. A little boy in front of us fell asleep on his Dads shoulder. At the end Carlos fell asleep on me. I guess 11 o clock is the golden hour for naps.
Afterwards we had a mini celebration at our house with a Nacho Bar and drinks. It was a great way to spend time with our friends. We don’t get to see Bryan and Valerie very often. Bryan now lives in Kentucky with his family and Valerie is 3 hours away in Sacramento California. I didn’t want the weekend to end and have to say goodbye to my friends. The house felt alive with laughter and stories. These are the best things in life.
Soon we will have to make some trips to visit Carlos’ Nino and Nina. Thank you two for everything this weekend and all you have always done for us. Here’s to more years to come!

Officially Nina Valerie & Nino Bryan [on the right side]

Officially Nina Valerie & Nino Bryan [on the right side]

A photo before everyone goes back home. We will miss you both!

A photo before everyone goes back home. We will miss you both!

Nino & Nina

Nino & Nina

Mini photo shoot to capture his Baptismal outfit

Mini photo shoot to capture his Baptismal outfit

<3

8 months

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The last time I wrote about my little one, was 4 months ago. Four months later, he’s grown into a sweet, playful, little boy. It’s funny to look back at those pictures already and see his changes. He has much more hair now, 5 teeth with 3 more on the way, a little playful personality.
I always think my kids are older than they are until I get a reality check. To me, Carlos has always been a big baby. He just grew so fast and got his teeth 7 months quicker than his sister did. But, this weekend while I was holding him and walking up to our car, I caught a reflection of us. It took me off guard and I stood there looking at him and I. I didn’t realize my baby is still just a little baby. As fast as he’s been growing and learning he still needs to be held. Ever since that day he hasn’t been my big boy, he’s been my little boy again. A few months after he was born I was so bummed out, I felt like I didn’t have enough pictures of him as a little baby. Taking care of him, Emery and the house got in the way of me making time to take lots of pictures. I complained to a friend of mine on how big he was already and not a little baby anymore. She laughed, and said, “He’s only 2 months”. In that 2 months their features change so fast but she was right, he was still a little baby and I was already acting like he was about to graduate College.
Carlos is understand words and responding by smiles or grunts. I’ve been working on sign language with him for easier communication. Our main signs are, “finish”, “Sister”, “Mom”, “Dad”, “Brother”, “water” and “thank you”. He watches my hands and studies them but has yet to use one. Now that Carlos is crawling he’s determined to start walking. He stands up on everything, which means he’s falling down a lot losing his balance. He’s gotten a lot better and now he sits on his legs. A big one for me is that he now can crawl and sit and sit and crawl. This just happened. Before this he wasn’t much of a sitter! He only ever wanted to stand or to be on the ground.
And slowly but surely my husband and myself are introducing some “real” food to him. Carlos only wants table food, he’s very interested in it and I’m sure has caught on that his baby food isn’t as good tasting as ours is. We are hesitant when it comes to food because of choking. As parents, I think that’s the one thing we baby the kids on. Carlos is completely ready for it, so we have to get with the program and have started buying him the next step in baby food. He’s been doing a good job chewing it and using those teeth he has. His favorite “big kid” food is saltine crackers.
In another four months this little one will have grown more than I can imagine right now. We will be celebrating his one year birthday. Everyday I’m grateful he’s in my life. I can wait to see the ways he grow and who he becomes.

8 months old

8 months old

Learning

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I place a lot of emphasizes on school and homework with Emery. She may only be three but this is the age when children’s minds are sponges and soak up EVERYTHING. I never had that push, and at an early age I hated school. Without even realizing it I was pushing Emery to be something different that I was. Emery saw her older brother going to school and started saying how she went to school, and had homework. Her imagination sprouted having actual “homework” everyday. She sees her brother, Father and Grandmother all doing homework. The idea of doing homework seems (to her) like something everyone has to do.
At the age of one years old she was counting to ten in English and Spanish. She knew some sign language, her alphabet and spoke well. At two years old Emery knew colors, shapes (ones like oval and diamond) and how to count to twenty and alphabet recognition. Its been three months since she turned three and she knows the sounds each letter makes, shes doing sight cards and is learning to write letters and numbers (0-100 with some assistance), she knows days of the week and months of the year, how to spell her first name and last name. Sounds like a lot? It really couldn’t be easier! The key is to take the time and spend it wisely.
Emery isn’t allowed to watch what I like to call, “dumb shows”. Not only do I think they are dumb but they don’t teach anything (with the exception of Disney cartoons). Once in awhile I will put on Power Puff Girls on for her but other than the few random shows here and there shes on educational television. Her favorite program is, Baby First (its, its own channel if you’ve never heard of it), Leap Frog (it really helped enforce certain things while being fun), Nick J.r. (one of her fun programs ,but Dora & Diego have really helped with Spanish and the learning of animals) and what ever learning movies her Father and I have purchased for her.
Target dollar aisle is my weak spot, anytime I go in I NEED to see whats new. Maybe its scrap-book paper? Maybe stickers or cute little socks? If its school supplies I will probably walk away with something. During August and September when the children go back to school and teacher supplies are out is the best time to shop. Emery has a little box full of flash cards, crayons that are made for dry erase boards (so that she doesn’t have to use markers and get ink everywhere), and learning books. Not only will it be used for her but but also for her little brother. Michael’s also has teaching supplies (such as the alphabet or clocks) during the back to school season. I have reward stickers for her when her homework is completed and done correctly. Just a little sticker can make her feel special. I put it up on the fridge for her Father to see when he gets home and send pictures to her Grandmothers.

Dry erase boards found at Target and Michaels

Dry erase boards found at Target and Michaels


Now here’s the trick. Getting them to learn isn’t always easy. There are days when she doesn’t want to sit still for 5 minutes but I force her (err, I mean ask her) for her attention and then her homework is done. I only do 10 minutes a day. If its something like a learning movie or song she can watch or listen to it as many times as she wants. I know Pinterest has some great ideas from other people.
Learning the days of the week and months of the year was a song from the same group on Youtube. I put my laptop in her room and as we played we sang along. It took a week before she could sing the songs correctly without the music or help.  The days of the week song was a little slow for us. We learn better with things that are more up beat so I sang it with the same beat as the months of the year.
Months of the year
I put letters on a white sheet of paper and had her circle and cross out certain letters I asked her to.
Now this is the one thing I’m really geeking out on! I’ve bought Emery writing paper and dry erase boards to practice her writing. I found this website so you can put a single word, multiple word, small sentence or paragraph on a sheet. This way you can teach your child or whom ever a certain word. This site  will also help you practice your cursive! I’ve had many discussions online about the lack or cursive being taught and how its a dying art. Most of the United States have stopped the practice or cursive (this not including California ,yet). Many people believe that its a dying art form and the curriculum is to teach kids typing to keep up with the technological age. I can’t argue with that, computers are the future, however a beautiful hand written note to say, “Thank You” or to simply WRITE should not be lost with our grandparents. Cursive is also a faster way to write. I wont be teaching my three year old cursive any time soon but I’ve been worried about her not picking it up. I would have taught her anyways, but my cursive is not as elegant as the older generation. This site will help teach her the right way to write. This can also be a good homework for summer, when they arn’t in school but to keep them active and learning.

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This turned out crooked but I made a sheet for Emery to learn her First name.

This turned out crooked but I made a sheet for Emery to learn her First name.

Here she is practicing her name. Practice makes you better!

Here she is practicing her name. Practice makes you better!

Each day just a little practice of anything can go a long way. Teaching doesn’t have to be mundane. Singing a song on how to spell your child’s name while in the car, teaching about traffic lights or counting on the way to the grocery store. It all adds up to one smart child.