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Harry Potter World and Thanksgiving at the Beach

This year for Thanksgiving we went to the beach with my mom’s side.  We also snuck in a day trip to Harry Potter World.  It was really fun!  Here are some pictures:



She’s the cutest








In line for the tour of the movie sets. Do you like my dad’s multiple cameras and nifty hat ?! 😀


Fearless on the playground.  She had just met Dora the Explorer at this point and was quite pleased with herself.

A live dinosaur behind us, be we aren’t scared! Also, this little man went on Jurassic Park the ride and and he wasn’t scared of that either! Although I was, slightly.  He’s a brave guy.





Bracelet turned headbands

I really like these people. It was a fun time! Apart from the flu that some of us caught.  Harry Potter World and Universal Studios were probably the highlight, as was lunch at the spot and this charming homeless man who cajoled my dad into getting lunch for him. And of course, big family dinners are always great.


Have a great weekend!









A long time ago,  I went up to Yosemite to do the Upper Falls Hike with some friends.  It was gorgeous and I would love to do it again.  Or better yet, Half Dome! We took a lot of breaks to relax and take in the scenery.  It was kind of a tough hike, but the views were spectacular.

Here are some pictures: 


These pictures make me excited for Spring…


Have a great weekend!

Practicando Español

Necesito practicar mi español escrito! Mis compañeros de trabajo hablan en español todos los días y es muy dificil comprenderles. Ellos hablan muy rápido! Y a veces, necesito decir algo sobre mis estudiantes que solo ellos (los maestros) pueden entender.  Así que estoy practicando.

Estoy sentada en mi avión en dirección a la costa Este.  Es de noche y está oscuro afuera de mi ventana, a excepción de los pequeños de luz de las ciudades que estamos sobre volando. Estoy probablamente en algún lugar sobre Tennessee.  Me encanta el invierno en la costa Este. El invierno es un poco débil y ridículo en California, pero se siente tan rico y acogedor en la costa Este.  Me encantan las casa grandes y viejas, con grandes jardines y coronas de Navidad en las puertas, velas en las ventanas, fuego en las chimeneas y mantas. Me encanta como todo el mundo tiene miedo y las escuelas cieeran cada vez que hay nieve (solo en DC tal vez). Me encanta San Francisco por un millón razones, pero el invierno y la Navidad simplamente no se sientan tan auténticas o tan encantadoras como cuando hay 50 grados afuera.  Me gusta el invierno autentico.

Por otro lado, hice algunos propósitos de Año Nuevo para 2016 e hice progresos recientamente sobre lo que respeta a la television.  Ya sé es ridiculo, pero normalmente no veo la tele.  Y la television es uno de esos puntos de conversacion que reune la gente, como lo es también la comida.  No es super polarizante o deprimente como muchos eventos actuales ahora.  Asi que por muchos años, he hecho un propósito para el año nueve de ver una temporada completa de un programa de television, y cada año, siempre lo he dejado de lado (gracias por escribiendo esto phrase, Ana! jaja).  Quiero relajarme y ver la tele, pero cada vez que empiezo, solo pienso en todas las cosas que debo hacer, asi que no veo la tele.  Pero el otro día vi un programa que me encantó.  Tal vez, puedo hacer esto.

Gracias por leerme! Y muchas gracias a Ana por ayudarme!

Also, this:

Boston and New York

Last weekend was so fun! Flew across the country to Philly, where my connection got cancelled and I talked my way into a flight to Beantown. Good times finding an AirBnb in the middle of the night. Then shopping and drafting and Wegmans (!) for my first time. I crossed nothing off my list of things to do in Boston, but I did get to see my friend Sarah and then Rachel. Sarah made me the most amazing delicious dinner. And Rachel’s place was so cute and got me excited to decorate. They are both doing so well and I am so glad for that.
Then wedding dinner! So fancy, so fun.
It was buffet style and I got to practice my Spanish with A’s lovely, lovely family. There was a photo booth and we listened to toasts and speeches in both Spanish and English. A’s Dad’s was my fave. So heartfelt and such sweet words he picked. I love that their families have known each other for forever.
Then we stayed at our amazing AirBnb and our hosts made us this incredible breakfast and it was such a treat. Our host used to be Amish and she told us about her escape.
Amherst is an interesting spot, felt very wealthy and sort of preppy liberal. Really pretty.
We spent the morning getting ready and then headed off to the chapel for the beautiful ceremony and then off to the restaurant for the party party. The Spaniards got drunk real fast haha.
Dinner was fantastic and great and then group pictures and then dessert (one of each, don’t mind me), then dance floor, where we tore it up!!! The live band really made the night. They made songs that I didn’t even like so good! Boston Solo.
Then after party. That may have been the highlight for me. Trying to decipher A’s drunken accent and listening to the commentary and getting hit on. So fun.
Next day, New York! Getting stranded in Brooklyn and having to find a new place to sleep (Thanks for saving me Allison). Meeting up with B and eating our way through the city. Eat, eat, eat, eat. cookie shots, burritos, rice pudding, more dessert. No slowing down, no stopping! B knows his way around which is bad for me, because then I don’t pay any attention and just follow. Need to learn my way around.
It was a rainstorm and so we ducked in and out of stores and used dark cloud and gave passers-by updates to the minute, you’re welcome. I live for east coast thunderstorms. That was my one request to the weather gnomes: Give me a good thunderstorm while I’m on the east coast! Could have had more angry thunder, but I still loved it. Then we went to the Oculus station and then Times Square and got ourselves some tickets to Kinky boots which was a swell time. Great music but no plot. How do musicals win Tony’s without a plot?
Then we wandered around a bit more and argued about politics and Michael Bloomberg and then I went home and went to bed. Also of note: warm east coast  nights.  Love them so much.

Next day, Providence, then flight home.

Happy wedding A and A!! xx


Gorgeous San Francisco

After my workout this morning, I had to whip out my camera and take a few pictures, because the city in October is just radiant.  No fog, no cold, just prettiness.

IMG_3765 IMG_3769 IMG_3774 FullSizeRender (17) IMG_3757 IMG_3759 IMG_3762 IMG_3765 (1)

Come visit me in my gorgeous city!



Happy Father’s Day Weekend! Remembering my Grandpa

Happy Father’s Day!  My Grandpa passed away recently and my brother edited some videos of him so we could watch and remember.  This is the second half.


I loved my Grandpa so much and I really hope he knew how much I loved him.  I remember when I decided to move to California, I flew across the country, rented a car and drove to his house. My grandpa had ‘vitamin o’ (donuts) and a jolly smile waiting for me. He was actually giddy to see me!  Like a little kid.  My grandpa always had faith in me.  He never hesitated to tell me how much he loved me or how proud he was of me.  We spent summer of 2013 together and boy did we ever have fun!  I was running around like crazy, applying for jobs, and he was busy reading and watching golf and even going to the gym.  We talked about life, about work, about food, about his experiences.  He took me to restaurants and on the scenic backroads to Oakland.  And of course, we went to the gym together! I was so, so proud to go to the gym with my 89 year old grandpa.  He has never been ashamed of his love of work.  He was very in love with life in general.

My grandpa grew up during the Great Depression and always knew he’d never go to college because there was no way his family could afford it. So when it was time for him to graduate, he went and asked the principal if he could stay for a fifth year and take more classes.  They said yes and he stayed and studied a fifth year.  Knowing how  much my grandpa hated high school, I always thought that was a bold move.

Later he was drafted to fight in World War II. He passed an aptitude test so he could be a war engineer, although towards the end of the war he was put in infantry with everyone else.  My grandpa wrote about his experiences in the war in his life story, but he refused to talk about it otherwise (unless a sweet second grader needed to do a report on a veteran). I know the war took a toll on him and I don’t think it is a coincidence that he died on Victory in Europe day.  I am very proud of his service to the United States.

After World War II, my grandpa was able to attend college through the GI bill.  My grandpa worked forty hours a week while attending college, graduated with an accounting degree in three years, and never got less than an A. If you knew my grandpa, this would not surprise you at all.  As long as I knew him, my grandpa was completely, hopelessly addicted to work.

My grandpa always talked about how grateful he was for his education, how lucky he felt to have the chance to study and learn in college from good teachers. Whenever I was feeling down about my job, he would remind me of the power and importance of education. My grandpa was an inspirer and he was passionate about  education.

My grandpa was a Catholic in Utah (a rare demographic), and he sort of tried to hide that from my grandma while they were dating, but she knew the whole time and it didn’t bother her.  They got married and the missionaries started coming over. As I understand it, my grandpa gave them a fairly hard time for about six years and then he finally decided to get baptized.  He was still very skeptical of many things, but he jumped right into Mormonism and when he died he was certainly without any shame or doubt in his faith and the sacrifices he made for it.  He was Bishop of the Laotian branch and he was a sealer in the temple for 23 years.  He loved being able to give service.

My memories of my grandpa are mostly of his sense of humor, generosity, and his obsession with work.  I remember when he and Grandma would come visit he would wake up early and make everyone breakfast (turtle pancakes) and then clean the kitchen and weed the backyard empty and then mow the entire lawn.  And my mom and dad would beg him to just sit and relax, but he was incapable of relaxing.  The only thing that was relaxing for him was work. At my grandpa’s funeral we found out  that he had turned in his home teaching report (checking in on about 20 – 30 home teachers to make sure they had visited each of  their assigned families) on the Tuesday before he died.  He had 100% completion. He was incapable of eating or getting up off of his lazy boy, but gosh damnit he was going to call people and harass them about their service and home teaching for the month!  My grandpa loved work.

My Grandpa loved delicious food and I think it was partly because he had gone a good deal of his early life without being able to have much food at all. After my grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary we started having family reunions in Carpinteria, California and I sincerely think Grandpa’s entire reasoning for this week of the year was to get everyone as fat as possible.    The whole trip was always on his dollar and he would always shoo us off to Robataille’s to get more candy and then after he’d force-feed us cookies and donuts and ice cream.  Etched on his gravestone are the words:  “Are you hungry? Can I get you anything to eat?” because you couldn’t go ten minutes without him asking you that.  OK so they’re not really etched on his gravestone, but we should at least check to see if there’s any space left for that. My grandpa loved food and he loved talking about food.  And as a survivor of the Depression and World War II, he shamelessly saved food, for years.  Oh how I love my grandpa.

My grandpa loved laughing. He had some famous jokes and he loved messing with little kids.  When they were little he tried to convince my twin brothers that the reason their hair was curly was because they had eaten too much soy sauce and they needed to cut back.  Hahaha.  There’s a clip in the video where he’s trying to convince me that he’s holding up the cannon.  He had a pretty big inventory of jokes and he loved being a wisecrack.

My grandpa never, ever complained.  I honestly don’t think I have ever heard my grandpa voice a complaint in my life.  When my grandma died, he pulled out pictures of her all over the house, but he never complained about missing her.  If I understand correctly, my grandpa died because his kidneys quit working and his body filled with toxins.  So it was a slow and miserable process. This last year was really brutal to watch, but he was such a champion about it.  When someone would ask, “How are you today Grandpa?” he would always say he was doing well, even though it was fairly obvious that he wanted to pass on.

Thank you for loving me and for being so great Grandpa! I love and admire you deeply and I am so grateful to have you for a grandpa.

Happy Father’s Day and thank you to both of my grandpas (I’m spoiled; my dad’s dad is actually equally wonderful and hilarious), to my dad, to my brothers and cousins, and to all the honest men making their contributions to our human family.  Your goodness makes a difference.

And a heartfelt thank you for reading.

Me when I was little


Here is a video my brother compiled of me when I was little!  Wasn’t I cute?  Although I apparently had some misconceptions about the game Duck, Duck, Goose….

I love my family so, so much.

Also, yesterday I found this article which references my brother’s research in the seventh paragraph!

Hope you are having a great week!

Thanks for reading.


I just finished my first meditation class!!  And I feel so, so good.  I feel like I just cleaned my brain out. And my body.  It was intense.  It was sort of like drugs, but better.  I feel better than when I get that amazing runner’s high.  We also did a good amount of sun salutations and I left feeling determined to eat healthier.

Also, I am hoping to start allergy shots soon.  I am so sick of this never-ending headache of mine.  I can’t believe it because it is FEBRUARY!!  Never thought I’d be looking forward to getting regular shots….

That is all.  Have a loverly rest of your week!  Also hope your allergies are not nearly as bad as mine (West Coast) either that or you are prepared for some of the coldest temperatures on record (East Coast)!


Proficiency-Based Personalized Learning


Michael Horn from the Clayton Christensen Institute, interviewing Jose Ferreira, the founder of Knewton.  No doubt our children will be benefitting (and/or suffering — big potential for privacy violations in this market) from Knewton in the future.


Technology can process enormous quantities of information much more rapidly than the human brain.  Technology can adapt new pieces of information within a personalized learning infrastructure within milliseconds. And although it is relatively impersonal (compared to human interaction at least), it can still measure and amass a very nuanced inventory of user knowledge and use that to help humans learn at their own individual pace.  This is in fact quite revolutionary.  This is the basically the future of learning.

A HUGE part of teaching is doing inventory.  For example, this coming week I’m taking over teaching a few subjects that my team teacher usually covers.  In order for me to teach my students effectively I need to know exactly which topics my students have learned and which they haven’t learned.  I need to know which subjects they think they have learned, but in reality, they’ve gotten most of their answers wrong or they are missing a key concept in the process. I need to give them the next relevant piece of information for them to progress in Math, English, Geometry, Culture, etc.  I need to be ready to speed up or slow down depending on how ready they are to absorb the information and, if they’re really struggling, I need to be ready to find the holes in their foundation that are preventing them from grasping the new concept.

In order for me to take comprehensive inventory, I need to look through each page of each student’s notebooks.  As you may guess, this is immensely time-consuming. It takes away from time I could spend doing lesson prep, buying materials, and most importantly, helping struggling students and working with small groups.  So here is where ed tech comes in. Companies like Khan Academy and Lumosity, and platforms like Knewton make learning personalized based on correct or incorrect answers to questions.  Students can work on this while the teacher is helping students who need individual help.  The computer collects data on students– so the teacher can pinpoint exactly which students are learning which concept. This also takes away the stigma of learning slowly.  Students can privately struggle with a concept on the computer without being labeled the ‘stupid kid’.  These programs create a safer, healthier learning environment and alleviate many opportunities for kids to compare themselves.

This is essentially the market of ed tech.  It is growing bigger every year and I think with the correct implementation, this can make classrooms exponentially more efficient.  I think on the whole, combined with the right dialogue about learning, it can also improve the psyche of the classroom and respect for different paces and modes of learning.  I’m really excited about this market.

Here is another interesting article about what makes technology in schools so valuable.  Chapter seven of Disrupting the Classroom by Clayton Christensen is another great read on the topic (if not a bit dated now).


David Rose, a developmental neuropsychologist adn educator, showing ways technology can help students with print learning disabilities (like dyslexia) to learn patterns in music. This was at the LearnLaunch ed tech conference at Harvard in January.

Thanks for reading!  Hope you are having a lovely weekend.

Weekend in Boston



Harvard Selfie.

Last weekend I went to an education conference in Boston and it was simply fabulous.  I learned tons of ideas that are shaping schools and technology and I came away with many new insights.  In all honesty, though, some of these new insights about education were a little disheartening to learn about.  For instance, I was reminded that education is immensely political and polarizing. It is something that humans fight over and blame each other for.  Good people who go into education with the best intentions seem to create enemies out of nowhere, over sometimes seemingly trivial things.  It’s a shame, because we really do all want the same things: for young people to be safe, to be challenged, to enjoy learning and working, and ultimately be prepared to contribute to the workforce and the world.  And yet we usually don’t agree on the pathway to those goals or have the powers of persuasion to move together towards them.

But, don’t fret; I am still I believer.  I still believe that, no matter how politicized it can become, good humans will continue to rally around improving education and we can agree on the fundamental components of a solid education.  Right now I think America  needs to be more deliberate in the steps we take towards improving schools.

Anyway, the conferences was the perfect excuse to romp around Boston on my own; I got into the city a day beforehand so I could explore.  For me, there is nothing more exhilarating and liberating than purchasing that Charlie card and  running around a new city on my own.



Memorial Church at Harvard. My real goal was to get inside the building across from Memorial Church, the Widener library. Widener library has a famously spectacular interior, but alas, you must be a Harvard student to see it.



More Harvard. I love red brick and I can’t get over the windows or that flat-trapezoid-y shape of the building on the left.


Museum of Fine Arts. Very beautiful.


We’re heading into our Rome and Italy unit. I took this picture to show my students! I’m excited to learn about Roman pottery with them.


The MFA had an impressionism exhibit which was my favorite. Renoir is my mom’s favorite.


Monet is my favorite.


Copley square, outside the Boston Public Library.


Boston Public Library. It’s like a Palace, but just for learning. Honestly and truly, its nickname is the “Palace for the People.”


Yours truly. Taken by a nice Chilean gentleman and I completely, accidentally passed up a chance to practice my relatively lousy Spanish on someone who was probably homesick and missing his Spanish-speaking comrades.


See? Palatial.



Old red brick ftw! Think I’ll move here.


Burdick’s hot chocolate. You must taste this decadence. Life-changing!


LearnLaunch 2015. This is Michael Horn from Clayton Christensen Institute interviewing Jose Ferreira about Knewton and big data within ed tech. Admittedly, Jose used enough techy acronyms that I’m not sure how much of his interview I understood correctly. If there’s anything I gained at the conference though, it’s a new hunger for learning and keeping up with all of the changes in the world, especially in technology.


My host, the lovely Katherine Boren. We did a lot of eating out as well as a bit of shopping. Here we were taking the T to see “Into the Woods.” It was great. #Merylstreep

That’s my recap!  More substance to come.