Friday, June 13, 2014

Friday, the 13th? Not was a special day!

Dad was invited to a special recognition of school volunteers and guess who shared a speech in front of the whole school and parents?  Yup - me!  Last night, I asked Mom about how large was her biggest audience was and she said around 500.  Well, I'm not for competing with her, but I think I beat her audience size.  I probably had close to 600 kids, parents and teachers!  Mom is okay with that.

I was also recognized in the afternoon for a special achievement award for oral presentation.  I shocked even myself!  But, Mom?  She knew all along.  I guess that on the surface I may be quiet and shy, but I do have a voice.  She believes that this more than a math or reading award tops any other.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Chinese Opera Performance - I play a monster!

We had weeks of rehearsal.  According to Dad, the story is about…  There were professional make-up artists who applied our make-up and cool costumes.  Our class started the show and other professional Chinese Opera singers performed with musicians who played Chinese instruments.  Enjoy the pictures!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Camping 2014

We slept on a bed off the ground this year!  Dad and I slept well.  I had lots of activities from swimming, mining, geocaching and zip
lining.  I refused to zip line.  I was scared.  Mom and Dad slowly harnessed me.  Then, I saw all of my friends get in line and start falling off a cliff.  As long as my friend Owen and I zip lined together, it was going to be okay.  Well, to say the least, after my first one, I wanted to do it again.  I zip lined with Dad!  He was taking a video while we flew through the sky.  It was awesome!  Mom is preparing a video of my zip lining.  Stay tuned...

Monday, May 05, 2014

Superstar of the Week!

Yup.  It was my turn to be Superstar of the Week.  This week I get to beautify a whole bulletin board in class with stuff about me!  Mom and I worked on the project for awhile.  She asked me what I wanted to share with my classmates.  Well, let's see Mom.  You know that more than me, but I guess after we put the entire board together, I started to get excited about sharing what I do in my spare time with my friends.  I wanted lights and shiny stars all around my board.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

My Filip

Okay, so wearable technology is not a new thing, but communicating with Dad and Mom 24/7 is.  Mom is excited about being able to text me and allowing me to phone her or four other important people in my life at any time.  Mom makes it seem like this gadget is for my convenience, but I know that it she feels a little better knowing where I am and that I can contact anyone in an emergency.  But, she warns that this technology does not rule out common sense!  She is waiting for the new release.  I can't for it.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Mouth Guard Day

Dad said that I needed a mouth guard to protect my teeth because I grind my them when I sleep.  Yummy - bubble gum flavored yucky stuff in mouth.  I can't wait to wear something since both Dad and Mom wear a guard at night.  While I was waiting for it to set, I sat in Dad's office and perfected my Clash of Clans skills.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

My Purple Belt!

The morning started like any typical Sunday morning…cuddling with Mom and looking for Dad.  "Sandwich time," I yelled…that means I get squished between their hugs at the same time.  I finished reading my novel while Dad was working on his latest painting of Venice and Mom went out for some French pastries and coffee.  I had my sticky rice and fruit for breakfast.  We hung around the house enjoying some down time.  Dad was glad we did because after Mom dropped me and Dad off at the Shaolin Academy, it was go, go, go for the rest of the day.   

The award ceremony was about 3.5 hours!  The students performed, we enjoyed a great Vietnamese buffet and then, Shifu presented the belts.  I was one of the students standing guard while Shifu called each awardee to the stage…boy, was my arm getting tired.  We had to stand in attention while holding
our staffs.

The Blue belts and the Green belts were awarded first, then came the Purple belts.  There were only a few of us who moved on to the Purple level.  I didn't want to show it, but I was sure pleased.  I did jump for joy before returning to my "guard" duties.  After a loooooot of picture-taking, it was time to pick up some desserts for dinner with A's family.

They just got back from a trip through Rome, Naples and Florence.  Mom and Dad wanted to welcome them back by inviting them to dinner, but they beat us to the punch and invited us for a delicious Vietnamese meal.  Mom decided to pick up some Che (Vietnamese desserts).  She and Dad had never really had it before.  Mom just pointed at sweets that looked wildly familiar to Filipino desserts.  I guess they (the adults) truly enjoyed them.  Me and my friends (A & V) preferred the old standby, bonbons and ice cream!    Mom will definitely return for Che!!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Whale Watching

We boarded the boat on a crisp, sunny day.  The crew and captain were friendly and knew a lot about marine life.  As we sailed through the calm water before reaching the high swells of the ocean, we viewed beautiful bay homes.  I told Mom that we should probably buy one of those homes.  I only heard crickets…and, then she said out loud, "we're downsizing."  "Huh?"

Anyway, it got windy and cold on one side of the boat, so I went inside to get some hot chocolate.  The captain announced that they
saw a whale yesterday and hoped that we might see something today.  He told us to be on the lookout for a blow hole spurting air and water.  It was not twenty minutes into our journey when we spotted a few dolphins.  Then, a couple minutes later, the captain yelled with glee that there were a pod of about 5000 dolphins ahead.  Boy, he was not kidding.  They were surrounding the boat and viewed them even yards away.  It was fascinating!
It was difficult to capture photos because of the glare, but the dolphins were excited to swim the swells that the boat was making.

The captain said that we might get lucky and see a whale closer to the beach.  Well he was not wrong.  When we past Crystal Cove and a few other inlets, he said that he spotted something coming out of the water.  A humpback mother and her calf!!  The captain turned off the engine so we could get a little closer.  There were paddle boarders close to the whale.  No one wanted to get too close because we did not want to disturb them.  The mama might get upset.  Dad and I saw the whales from the top level of the boat while Mom was below taking pictures with her phone.  

Dad finally couldn't take his sea sickness and took a nap.  I started to feel a little funny too.

Mom was still clicking photos.  She decided to stay out in the fresh air to distract herself from the people getting sick in plastic bags.  

It was time to get back.  As we approached calmer waters, we came upon a group of California sea lions on a buoy.  They were just basking in the sunshine.

We landed and Dad had to get his wits about him.  We were proud of him.  He did not throw up!  

Mom and Dad decided that it would be their last whale watching trip.  Unless, of course, it is on a luxury liner.  I agreed.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Mining, crafting, oh my!

I am so excited about discovering different ways to create new tools to expand my collection.  I mine new raw materials and craft new worlds.  I furnish my world with all sorts of cool things like a bed, table, bench and a torch while I am avoiding the bad guys like enderman and zombies! 

I was so excited about discovering a diamond ore that I ran up to tell Mom!  I told her that I kept digging and digging until I found something.  "So I guess persistence is the operative word," mom said.  I don't even know what that means.  I just said "uh huh."  She believes that eye-hand coordination, problem solving, resourcefulness, creativity, analysis, assessment and cognitive dissonance all play into my Minecraft time.  She said that she's okay with that.  Now if I can only apply all of that in other activities.  She thinks that I already do.  I don't know, but I guess I'm doing it.

My next goal is to create a new skin on my crafter so that it has wings.  

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Spring camps!

I am enjoying the freedom to come and go across the street to visit with my friend.  Grandma is staying with us so that she can watch and feed me.  I do have a schedule of piano and cello practice, reading my novels, and Jiji.  Luckily, I completed all my Chinese homework last week! 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Sony Studio Visit - Scoring of Planes 2

I spent another fun filled day with Dad.  Dad and I were invited to view the scoring of Planes 2.  That means they play music to accompany the movie.  In this case, there was a full orchestra that
played live music while a conductor and all sorts of music editors and directors guided the musicians on what, how and when to play during parts of the movie.  The conductor used words like forte and crescendo - all words I know!!

One of the directors handed me a thick book of the score (a fat book of musical notes) to follow as they were playing the music.  That was eye opening.  Dad knew that I was making all sorts of connections with my experiences with piano, cello and the symphony program at school.  

As I watched the movie, I could see how music makes people "feel" the movie - be it sad, happy,
exciting, scary.

During break, Dad's friend introduced me to one of the cellists.  He encouraged me to continue playing
and studying the cello.  I was also introduced to the conductor - he is an important man.  Everyone followed his lead as he swung is stick.  

Knowing that I was probably getting bored, Dad asked if I wanted to leave before the program ended.  I answered with a definite "no."  I enjoyed being in a sound studio with a whole lot of technology and people who were good at what they did - it was all very professional. I can't wait for the movie to come out in theaters.  Here is a little movie Dad captured of the performance.  Enjoy!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Hospital Visit with Yeye

I spent the day with Dad, Naynay and Yeye.  Yeye had a doctor's appointment and we all went to the hospital.  Dad reported to Mom that I was an "angel" and had a very pleasant disposition during the appointment.  Yeye even helped me with my Chinese homework. 
Even when Dad thought I was not paying attention because I was so engrossed in my game, I was really tuning in to everything around me.  So when a nurse told Yeye to drink more cranberry juice, during lunch, I asked Yeye if he had any yet.  To everyone's surprise, I can do more than one thing at a time!

Since Yeye had to stay at the hospital a little longer than expected, Mom picked me up after her work so that I can rest.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Ren Fair 2014

This year my goal was to obtain a wicked wand.  I could not wait until we got dressed up in our Ren Fair garb.  It was a nice cool day to rock climb,
throw ninja stars, bungee jump and watch fire jugglers and other shows.  We had a feast of fried foods - calamari, fish and chips.  Our favorite strawberry ice was plentiful and a perfect ending to a fun-filled day.

Our year's purchases included dad's artist's hat, mom's beret and my oh so wicked wand!  The wand crafter carves intricate wands out of wood and names them.  Mine is called the "Mystic" wand.  I
assessed the Harry Potter wands, but they did not feel right in my hand.  The wand maker cautioned me that the wand was loaded and ready for spells.  I told him that I would only cast good spells.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

I passed my CM!

My cello teacher presented me with my evaluation results and my certificate today.  I can't wait to find out if I passed my belt test.  Stay tuned...

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Certificate of Merit for Cello

Today started with laying around in bed.  Slowly, Mom and I headed on down for a little breakfast.  My day really got going when I practiced for my CM.  For those of you who don't know what CM is, visit this website for a little primer on CM (  This year, I am registered to be evaluated in cello playing (strings).  

I practiced my scales G Major, G Major Arpeggio, C Major and C Major Arpeggio, my memorized piece "Minuet No. 2" by Bach (the Cello Boy on YouTube plays it well), and the piece "Long, Long Ago" where I am accompanied by a pianist.  I then headed to the dining room to review my theory that included musical terms, ear training, parts of cello and note recognition.  
I don't think I felt it at the time, but I must have been stressed out because after my Snow Monster trip, I put on my ostrich pillow in the car and fell right to sleep. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

I know when I'm sick!

When Mom picked me up from school, I complained of a headache.  I wasn't myself.  "Do I have to go to school tomorrow, Mom?"  She felt my head and said, "we'll see."  She gave me her phone to review the new app that she had downloaded.  It looked cool, but after awhile, I put the phone down.  Mom looked in her rearview mirror and new that I wasn't feeling well.

When we got home, I explained to her that the way I was feeling was a lot like a few months ago when I started feeling bad.  I didn't want to eat, but I needed to do my homework.  I took a shower and read a little.  Mom felt me head and tummy.  Yup, I had a fever.  Mom gave me some medicine and patted my skin with cool towels.  I immediately fell asleep.  

Needless to say, I did not go to school the next day.  I was still warm.

See I told you, Mom, I know when I am getting sick.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Evening Rituals

Previous years:
Mom: "Take a shower, scrub your feet - between your toes - wash your pigu, goola, kilikili, turn water off, come out, slather on aquaphor, take your clothes to the hamper, brush your teeth, get your bed ready, read your novel, turn on your audiobook, go to sleep."
Me: Done!
Mom:  huh?  
Me:  That's right!
Mom:  Oh yeah!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Purple Belt Test

Mom did not want to accompany me to yet another spring time test.  I'll let you know how I did.  Stay tuned...

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Cello Recital

Okay so I have been studying for the Certificate of Merit exam.  The theory portion is vocabulary and note reading/recognition.  The practical is scales and two memorized pieces.  Before I play my pieces for the exam, my cello teacher has everyone performing their selected pieces during today's recital.  Mom said I did great.  In fact, as the other students were arriving, I was rehearsing in my teacher's kitchen.  Mom was so proud.  Dad, on the other hand, did not know what to listen for.  Mom says he is clueless and can't hum a tune to save his life (whatever that means).  My recital piece is Minuet No. 2 by Bach.  I listen to the Cello Boy on YouTube for inspiration.  He's a pretty good online teacher.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Hello iVee!

Here's my new alarm clock.  I talk to her or rather I command her to set the time, the alarm, the sound the alarm makes to wake me.  It sounds like an evacuation alarm.  I love it.  I say "hello iVee."  She greets me with a "good evening," "hi there," "hello."  She asks "how can I help you?"  Sometimes when I have food in my mouth as I speak, she says, "I can't understand you."  Hmmmm...I really think that's Mom in there.

Thursday, February 27, 2014


Since Mom started this new app called Collect beginning January 1, I "collected" countless selfies! 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Level up

Mom decided to name posts about my growth "Level Up."  She thought that I would understand what she means since everything is about going up levels, like in games.  "What level are you working on?"  "Are you at the next level?"  I guess it's the word of my generation - I am a millennial after all.  Mom noticed my leveling up as:
1.  enjoying reading more - I don't know if I enjoy reading as much as I understand what I read and attempt to work toward 100% on my quizzes.
2.  enjoying writing more - I don't know if I enjoy writing as much as I like seeing a full page of my writing.  i do begin to structure my writing with a topic sentence, beginning, middle and end.  I like to use details and describe emotion in my writing.  
3.  enjoying playing the cello more - I don't know if I enjoy playing the cello as much as I like memorizing pieces.  I can play a whole piece like Bach's Minuet No. 2 without reading the notes.

Okay, now saying after saying all of that, I want to quit everything!  But, I say that everyday.  In fact, just the other day, I told Mom that I would do anything for her if I can quit everything.  

My Mom really listens to the words I use to negotiate homework, play time and screen time.  She notices how I consider the consequences before I articulate my thoughts so that it ultimately works out in my favor… Just not the quitting part.

She recognizes my growing concern for Dad when he takes his blood pressure.  I often recommend how we can lower the numbers by walking and eating well.  At one point, I place my Lego R2D2's cap on his head to regulate his stress level.  I try to use the "force" to relieve his stress.  Okay, okay so I'm all Star Wars up on him, but he thinks it really works! 

When Dad isn't home in the evenings because of a meeting, I ask Mom to walk with me.  I told her that walking will help with her fat.  "Huh?"  She just cracks up.  I think she knows it's true.  I mean, about the fat thing.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Night at the Museum - Dino Camp

Dad, Mom and I had an awesome overnight camping experience at the Natural History Museum.  We checked in after the museum closed to the public.  There were a lot of scouts with their packs as well as other families.  Each group was assigned a Hall to set up camp.  We were assigned the North American Mammals Hall.  We shared sleeping quarters with elephants, antelope, bears, raccoons, etc…  Since we were among the first to arrive, Dad decided to set up camp at the hall entrance so that we were closest to the bathrooms.  We slept in front of the antelope exhibit.

After dropping off our camping gear, we had a brief orientation in the main hall where a large Triceratop fossil was displayed.  Dad couldn't help but take photos of everything - he was so excited! 
He had never been in a museum at night before.  Us kids had an orientation of our own, while moms and dads were taken to another hall to go over some rules and the schedule of activities.

We were part of the stegosaurus group with other smaller families.  It was fun because there were kids my age.  I even made a friend - Conner.  He was a smart little kid.  He always asked a lot of questions.  Our group began the evening at the Dino Hall where we learned all about how and where dinosaurs were discovered.  Our guide, Johanna, showed us fossils of dino poop and a T-Rex tooth! 

We even saw a very rare fossil of a dinosaur mommy who still had a baby in her tummy - the only one in existence!  The Dino Hall had the large dinosaur displays as well as marine dinosaurs.

Our next activity was a scavenger hunt in the T-Rex Hall.  Dad, Mom and I travelled around the hall to search for answers to some very interesting questions.  We learned about how big baby dinosaurs are, what sounds dinosaurs make, how they hear, and what animals today are considered "dinosaurs."  Did you know that a sparrow and emu are like dinosaurs because of their bone structure?  I thought dinosaurs were always large.  There are dinosaurs that can fit in my pocket.  Boy, I would like one as a pet.  In this hall, we viewed videos of paleontologists at work.  It looks like a lot of digging and dust!  

After the scavenger hunt, we were taken to the main hall to sit and listen to someone who showed us a gopher snake.  We learned a lot about what it eats, how it sleeps and hears.  Gophers can eat a mouse 3 times the size of its mouth.  We even got to touch its scales.  Did you know that a gopher snake is longer than a rattle snake?  It uses its size to coil itself around its prey or enemy.  The rattle snake doesn't have to be long since it uses its bite to kill its prey or enemy.  

Our last activity was in the classroom to create a fossil. 
We visited the Dino Lab to view the large
My T-Rex Claw fossil
equipment that paleontologists use to make casts or models of what they fossils they find so that people can see them from all over the world.  In the classroom, we had to decide what kind of fossil we wanted to make.  I chose the T-Rex claw.

We had a light evening snack of cheese, fruit, fish crackers and lemonade.  

We headed off to set up our cots, pads, sleeping bags and pillows.  We brushed our teeth and dozed off to sleep.  Dad and I slept on the cots and mom slept on a nearby bench.  All lights went out, even the ones in the display except for the hallway in case we needed to use the bathroom.  Sleeping in a large hall was like sleeping in a cave.  Everything echoed - we heard mattresses squeak and lots of snoring!  Mom said that I was totally asleep.  Dad said that mom and I were snoring.  Although mom didn't remember sleeping at all.

In the morning, we were gently awoken by lights slowly being turned on in the displays.  It was cool.  We went down to the Rotunda area where a large bronze statue of the The Muses was displayed.  We had cereal, granola bars, and fruit.  It was a nice cold breakfast.  

After breakfast, dad wanted to go through the Silk Road exhibit, but it was closed for cleaning.  Mom and Dad were ready to go home…I think, so was I.  It was exciting to have the museum all to ourselves - kind of.  When we got home, we watched the movie, "Night At The Museum."  Even though the exhibits didn't come to life during our stay, spending the night around them was enough for me.  I don't need to see them come alive!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Focused all night on homework

I know that I need to reach my reading goal by the end of the month, but I have too much homework this evening.  Mom noticed my mind working about how I could complete all my schoolwork and finish my novel.  Well, it took all night, but I was focused.  Left on my own, I was able to accomplish five pages of reading comprehension and questions, three pages of geometry, a page of spelling words and definitions, eating two plates of dinner, an apple and "a partridge in a pear tree."  (Just kidding about the partridge.)  After brushing my teeth and taking a warm shower, I jumped right into bed and finished the last three chapters of my novel.  I even answered all the questions on a practiced quiz correctly.  Whew, was I tired.  I fell right to sleep, BUT, not without my hugs from Mom first.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Cello and love

My Mom has been thinking about my moving on with Cello lessons after taking the Certificate of Merit assessment next month.  I have told her that I wanted to quit.  Of course, I say that about everything that's hard.

She has been reminiscing about her start with the Cello back in her junior high school days.  The orchestra teacher at her school taught all kinds of students from aspiring musicians to those who didn't even know they were capable of playing an instrument.  My Mom's experience was that of the latter kind.  She selected an elective that was different from anything she had ever taken - Orchestra.  She didn't even know that the Orchestra was a big deal at this school.  There were before and after school practices and rehearsals and evening performances with formal wear…yes, that is a big deal.  My recitals are a big deal for me.  I have to wear a white shirt, black slacks, a tie and shiny shoes.

Moving on… she told me the story of how she started with the Cello and why she selected it.  This is her story:

On the first day of class, the teacher asked the entire class to hold up our right hands with fingers spread as wide as possible.  The span of my fingers, luckily, allowed me to play the Cello.  I did NOT choose the cello - I wanted to play the violin or something small like the flute.  Well, I did not have the lung capacity to play a wind instrument due to my asthma.  The Cello chose me or rather, my teacher said that I would be a good cellist.  I do not remember how I started to read music and coordinate my fingers to play the notes.  But Mr. M, my beloved orchestra teacher, or should I say, the State's most loved teacher, taught me without "teaching" me.  How did he do this?  

I enjoyed being a part of an orchestra.  I was able to listen to an entire symphony and contribute my little part.  I started in the second row of the cello section and, within a year, ended up as first chair for several performances.  After a few months, Grandpa decided to move our family to the suburbs.  I did continue with Cello class through high school, but my high school did not offer orchestra as an elective.  
I did not pick it up again until 22 years later when I purchased an inexpensive one.   I was lucky enough to be at an instrument store that sold only string instruments on a day that a concert cellist was tuning her cello with a string master.  I played several cellos around a price range I could afford.  Among those that I played, the master and the professional cellist selected the one with the best sound.  I took their recommendation and now it is sitting in our living room.  I also ordered an acoustic cello so that I could practice using my headphones without disturbing anyone else.

I wanted to freshen my basic skills before taking formal lessons with cellists from the instrument store.  Sadly, the store closed just as I was about to call for lessons.  I bought my cellos before you were born and haven't played again since you started your lessons.  I was grateful that Dad showed you the Piano Guys videos on You Tube since one of the "guys" is a cellist.  I was ecstatic that you were inspired to play the cello.  

Thanks for your story Mom...

That was enough to rent a cello and sign up for lessons for me.  Luckily, Dad knew someone who was taking lessons with a renown cellist and patient instructor.  By the way, she is pictured here with Mom's beloved orchestra teacher.

When my Mom came across this photo and write-up about her teacher, she did a double-take and noticed my cello teacher was standing next to her cello teacher!!  My Mom became emotional and cried a bit at her desk.  There and then she decided that this was too much of a coincidence to let it go by.  She will work hard at helping me improve my cello playing. I hope that I can make you proud Mom.