Sunset Beach


Back from Monterey! It was a pretty awesome weekend.  As usual, the Monterey Bay Aquarium was incredible.  The exhibits were breathtaking and educational and the girls loved every moment.  The camping, contrary to my initial opinion, turned out to be peaceful and pleasant.  We met some new people and even ran into an old camping acquaintance!  Overall, it was an excellent voyage, but it was way too short.

Sunset Beach is one of many great camping spots along the California Coastline.  We tend to come to the coast in the spring.  It’s a nice time to visit.  You can catch a lot of wildlife and wild flowers.  Our flower viewing was nice, but nothing spectacular.  There were all sorts of campsite critters, including a mouse!  At night, we got a treat when the bats started flying about.  We don’t see too many of them in our area, so the girls were excited.

As the name would imply, the sunset was spectacular out on the beach.  The area wasn’t empty, but it was by no means crowded.  The walk was steep, but pretty easy.  The girls were able to manage fairly well, albeit with some complaining.  There were plenty of kids around and Goose and Bunny were their usual social selves and made some new friends.  As it turned out, one new friend was actually an old acquaintance from a prior trip!

The whole purpose of this trip was a day at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Be warned, it is a pricey museum trip.  The Aquarium is not publicly funded so admission costs are steep.  The cost for our family was pretty close to the cost of a family membership and if we had any intention of returning this year, we would have purchased the membership.  When we are full-time on the road, I hope to spend some time here and have the girls do some unit studies on marine life.  We will certainly take advantage of the membership prices then.

The Aquarium has a few permanent exhibits and some changing ones.  The temporary exhibits  are Tentacles and  ¡Viva Baja!, which are both amazing.  Tentacles takes you through all sorts of squid, octopus, and cuttlefish.

There were some fun educational displays, including how squids propel themselves through water and ‘make your own’ video of cuttlefish camouflage on your face!

Goose and Bunny’s favorite is the Open Sea.  That’s a really fun area because the tank is enormous and all the big fish are here.  The best part of this room is listening to the kids freak out over every giant fish that passes directly in front of them.  I will admit to oohing and ahhing myself.  It’s a great sight.

After the Aquarium, we took some lunch and went over to the Dennis the Menace Park.  If you travel to Monterey with kids, take them here.  It’s a sprawling play area with a rock climbing area, several play structures, a hedge maze, and a suspension bridge.  This is a park with something for any child to play on.  It is also in a prime location.  The park over looks a lake and the coast!

It was a fast-paced and fun trip, and we can’t wait to come back.  Thanks for a great weekend Monterey!

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To The Coast!

The Jolly Crew will be opening this season with a quick trip out to the Santa Cruz/Monterey Area.  We will be camping at a beach campsite (more information to follow) and visiting the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  Both girls will be studying “Animal Sciences” this coming year, so this will be a great opportunity to do animal profiles.   There are a lot of great resources for education at the aquarium here! The girls love undersea creatures, thank you Octonauts, and are very excited about this trip!

We had the pleasure of visiting the aquarium last year.  It was an absolute blast.  Monterey has a great exhibition, Tentacles, with an impressive array of jellyfish, octopuses, cuttlefish and squid!  This year they are also showing ¡Viva Baja! which looks amazing!  We’ll be back with more after this trip.  Enjoy your weekend!

Bunny, Goose, and Mouse – Monterey Bay Aquarium, April 2014


The Beginnings of Homeschool 

We will not be able to start homeschool until I leave my job.  That puts our scheduled official start for May 2016.   Until then, I’ve been happily experimenting during weekends, vacations and random days off.  Today is Cesar Chavez Day, and that means no work!  It’s a great day for homeschool practice!  Goose had school, but Bunny and I stayed home.  I usually set aside a pile of worksheets and have one or two planned activities for about an hour of school.  Please don’t think we actually get through all that.  I find that we can cover about three to four things in an hour, and switching up the type keeps away school fatigue.

We started with foreign language.  I’m going to enjoy the moment while you think I diligently teach my children a different language…. Ok, finished?  She watched Pocoyo in Italian on YouTube for twenty minutes.  I sit with her for some of it, and I repeat the words.  She likes to repeat with me and that works.  I’m not fluent in the language, so I don’t really want to try and speak with her.  I speak broken Italian, and mostly in the present tense.  It has served me pretty well, but we are aiming for fluency.  I have high hopes for the girls and at some point, my mother (who is fluent) will be joining us for lessons.  In the meantime, I plan to stick with books and streaming!  It seems to be working, because I heard her practicing Italian later in the day.

After that I set her up outside for some painting.  I needed some time for my own chores, so I put the tarp down to cut down on the clean up.   She enjoys mixing her own colors, and I like to call this  art and ‘pre science.’  We ended up with about 8 different colors, all of which somehow turned grey!  She happily pretended to write and make shapes.  Some of my favorites were the hexatangle and the dual heart square.


After that, she asked for abacus work and we did some counting.  I tried to show her adding, but I think we’re going to stick with simple number games for awhile.  I found some very nice small dry erase boards at the supermarket the other day.  They have come in handy! They are magnetic, so I have visions of stowing them on the walls!  I let her pick the first number and I pick the second.  She really enjoys counting, so I am taking advantage of this time.  I really enjoy using the abacus for counting and for early math.  Goose is using it for addition.

I tried to steer her towards some worksheets, but it did not take.  After Math work, we did some geography.  For geography, I have two books: Children Just Like Me and National Geographic Kids: Beginner’s World Atlas, some maps, and a globe.  Today we used the two pages of Children Just Like Me, which just has a bunch of pictures of kids from around the world.  We used that and a globe to find out where these kids lived.  Bunny knows her continents, so I would have her find the continent and then I helped her find the country.  We found about six kids.

Our last activity was a game.  I’m a big fan of finishing with a game.  Most games are just easy ways to sneak in learning.  She chose Monopoly Jr and won!  The board games are great for practice with following direction and counting skills.

Overall it was a successful homeschool day!  We did just enough to keep her interest up and we covered a lot of ground. I’m really looking forward to May!