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Spring 2014 – California’s Gold Country

Hwy49MainMapTime for another Road Trip!

Last summer, we hit the road to explore thirteen Spanish Missions, motivated by Felicia’s Fourth Grade California history curriculum.

When they return from Spring Break, her class will officially embark on their journey through California’s Mission period, followed closely by their unit on the California Gold Rush.

So, we better hurry!

We’ll start from Oakhurst on Wednesday morning, traveling through Mariposa, Sonora, Angel’s Camp, Jackson, Sutter Creek, Placerville, Coloma, Auburn, Grass Valley, and Nevada City.

Where should we stop? Where will we stop?

Follow along up-to-the-minute on Twitter:

Storify might be updated periodically to display things chronologically. Enjoy!

Felicia’s “Citrus Fiesta”

IMG_9183Booksin’s Annual 4th Grade Science Fair was today! Felicia’s entry was called “Citrus Fiesta,” and it explored how different liquids support growth in plants.

Big Question & Purpose: “Does orange juice, cran-apple juice, grapefruit juice, or water help a plant grow more quickly?”

Hypothesis: I believe that the Grapefruit Juice will work best out of the juices, because it has Potassium, Calcium, and Magnesium.


  1. The water was the strongest at 73% survival rate and 9 cm average height.
  2. The orange juice was the 2nd strongest at 80% survival rate and 4.2 cm average height.
  3. The Cran-Apple was the 3rd strongest at 40% survival rate and 3.7 cm average height.
  4. The Grapefruit Juice was the 4th strongest at 33% survival rate and 1.8 cm average height.


Water: The average height at the end of the experiment was 9 cm. The survival rate was 75%. I observed that two of the plants were doing so well then they started to shrink.

Orange Juice: The Average height of the plants at the end of the experiment was 4.2 cm. The survival rate was 80%. I observed that the dirt was tough and I believe it had mold on the top.

Cran-Apple Juice: The Average height at the end of the experiment was 3.7 cm. The survival was 40%. I observed that the dirt was very dark and almost black. Also three of the plants died at the very end of the experiment.

Grapefruit Juice: The average height of the plants at the end of the experiment was 1.8 cm. The survival rate was 33%. I observed that the dirt had a thin layer of mold on the top. Also three of the plants died at the end of the experiment.


  1. Push the potting soil into the container
  2. Plant seeds
  3. Water until seeds sprout
  4. When seeds sprout begin feeding the plants with 1 teaspoon every other day with the juices
  5. Poke holes in the dirt


  • 1 teaspoon Simply Grapefruit Juice every other day
  • 1 teaspoon Minute Maid Orange Juice with Calcium and Vitamin D every other day
  • 1 teaspoon Cran-Apple Juice, Ocean Spray every other day
  • 1 teaspoon Water every other day
  • Natural organic potting soil, enough to fill 24 1.5 in. cells
  • 25 Flying Saucers Morning Glory seeds
  • 72 spot container for plants, with 1.5 by 1.5 in. cells


In conclusion my Hypothesis was incorrect because the average height of the Grapefruit Juice was 1.8 cm which was the smallest and the survival rate was the worst at 33%.

One possibility is that the citrus caused mold in the dirt. The mold then made the dirt appear unhealthy. The dirt then was not suitable for the plants and they did not grow as well.

If I do another experiment I would see when plants are fed different juices, then water, which plants come back strong.

Of course, comparison is the albatross of all younger children. Jocelyn’s 4th grade science project in 2009 was the “Elevation Exclamation,” and 5th Grade was called “Up, Up, and Away” [design similarities are completely coincidental].

We hope 2014 is Best Year Ever!

2013-14 Holiday Card

2013 was our best year ever!

We began with a family trip to Banff, Canada, celebrating our 20th Anniversary and spent two summer weeks in China with cousin Kiana & Family. We toured fourteen California missions along El Camino Real, and we still found time to see Yosemite Valley, Big Sur, and Hearst Castle, with many visits to Tahoe.

Felicia began 2013 with successful heart repair surgery, and finished with two tournament championships with her soccer team. She learned to play her grandmother’s Clarinet, and has joined her school’s advanced band as a 4th Grader.

Jocelyn started 2013 in 8th grade, and ends it loving High School. She spent a week in Washington DC and New York, holds down midfield on her soccer team, and spells better than her “25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” character.

Merry Christmas to All!

And by “all,” she means all!


For a special holiday project this year, Felicia decided to make blankets as gifts. But these aren’t just any gifts, they are gifts she’s donating to Sacred Heart Community Service in the name of each gift’s recipients. That means, you aren’t getting one; instead, you’ll get a warm fuzzy feeling from the inside, knowing this gift was donated to a homeless person or needy family that needed a blanket more than you did.

So, Merry Christmas to all … and to all a warm night!

Carol of the [Mission] Bells

It’s Christmas: Mommy needs a new Christmas Carol. … But does she need a new ornament?

For this year’s traditional gift of a Christmas Carol and tree Ornament, we present a little twist. The Carol still commemorates an activity from 2013, but it’s presented this year in the form of a decorative garland, arranged in 21 parts: IMG_8293

  • 21 Mission Bells, representing California’s twenty-one Spanish Missions established along El Camino Real from San Diego to San Francisco and Solano.
  • 14 Commemorative charms from the fourteen missions we visited this year (thirteen on our MK Mission Mission in June, and Mission Santa Cruz from August).
  • 14 mini-framed “Mission Bells” photos from our trip.
  • Not yet pictured: Seven spaces left to be filled, when we are able to complete the Mission Mission with visits to San Diego and the remaining missions of the SF Bay Area.

For the record, here’s the “Carol of the Bells,” as performed this winter by the combined choirs of Willow Glen High School and Middle Schools, ironically presented sans bell:

Past Christmas Carol gifts:

2012: Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree
2011: Most Wonderful Day of the Year
2010: O Tanenbaum
2009: Frosty the Snowman
2008: The Race That Long in Darkness Pined
2007: Away in a Manger
2006: Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!
2005: What Child is This?
2004: I Saw three Ships
2003: One-Horse Open Sleigh (Jingle Bells)
2002: A Sweetie Goose in a Pear Tree (12 Days of Christmas)

Christmas Concert Compilation

Happy Holidays to all … and to all a string of very busy nights!

For your viewing pleasure, Felicia appears in videos from her school band performance (“Jolly Old St. Nicholas” and “Up on the Rooftop”) and from her bell choir and children’s choir at church.

Jocelyn’s high school Bella Voce choir finished the season with a performance at San Jose’s Christmas in the Park earlier tonight; the same choir joined other high school and middle school choirs in the “Carol of the Bells” after last week’s WGHS Winter Concert.

If you need more, our YouTube, Vimeo, and Flickr feeds are full of even more Christmas spirit.

Fall 2013: Monterey & Hearst Castle

Check out the Storify after the break! Continue reading Fall 2013: Monterey & Hearst Castle

Happy 4th of July from Hong Kong!

For those of you who missed the live-tweeting (approx 2:00 am PDT) from Afternoon Tea at The Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong, here’s a recap: Continue reading Happy 4th of July from Hong Kong!

Fuli & Yangshuo

In addition to all of the fun, active things we did along the Yulong River and Li River, we also found a little time to be proper tourists – and watch shows and shop!

On our second night in Yangshuo, we made plans to see the fancy light show on the Li River, Impression Sanjie Liu. It was a great show, with a huge cast and an outstanding scenic backdrop on the river. Pictures don’t do it justice.


Before kayaking on Tuesday, we spent the morning in Fuli on their traditional “Market Day,” which is really a cross between a farmers market, swap meet, and flea market. Or at least, we think everything imaginable was for sale.


Above are pictures of Aunt Jeni helping Jocelyn buy some old Chinese coins as a souvenir, and Kiana helping a vendor make a traditional painted paper fan.

Not pictured in Fuli: The crazy stiff we also saw in the market, like cooked duck, fileted fish, bulk spices/teas, and live caged birds. If you want to see those pictures, check out the Fuli Flickr collection (nothing NSFW, but credentials required).