Day Trip to Hike Pinnacles National Park

After weeks of feeling drained, physically and mentally exhausted to my limit from finishing parent-teacher conferences (with 26 students, that’s more than 13 hours of talking on top of teaching!) and being on the go with my busy life outside of work, yesterday was rejuvenating! Opting outside, being active, having fun and good conversations with some of my closest friends on a day trip to Pinnacles National Park! We were on perfect timing all day, and everything went according to plan. We made it back in time for me to make Women’s Group last night. As we closed the discussion on our book this year, my soul was encouraged and perspective was refocused. It was such a great, productive day off from work for Veteran’s Day! Praise God, and thanks to my friends for sticking with the original plan even though we almost canceled our hike. After we purchased the national park annual pass on our Utah and Arizona hiking trip over Fall Break, which was so worth $80, we are trying to hit up more national parks this year!

So about Pinnacles National Park! It’s the closest/most local national park to my house, 80 miles southeast of San Jose. It’s one of the newest national parks that Obama established in 2013. It’s known for the eroded leftovers of an extinct volcano as well as talus caves. Pinnacles has a bit of everything – cool rock formations, a serene reservoir, pretty green landscapes, awesome CAVES where flashlights are required to adventurously explore in the dark and see bat roosts… and the largest spiders/tarantulas I have ever seen in my life. Thanks to the recommendation of a friend, we hiked 9.5 miles round trip around the perimeter trails in a clockwise fashion starting and ending from Old Pinnacles Trailhead. We saw the whole park and both the lower Bear Gulch cave and Balconies cave that were open, and we didn’t have to go back on the same route at any point. I’d say Pinnacles National Park tops my list for most fun hike in California so far!

8:30 AM – Left my house for 1.5 hours drive from San Jose

10:00 AM – Arrived at the Visitor Center to get a bathroom break, pick up my souvenir postcard, and show my annual pass for a free parking permit

10:45 AM – Parked at Old Pinnacles Trailhead and started the hike

5 minutes into the hike, tarantula #1 (see the gum that was spit out when someone with real arachnophobia screamed HAHA for scale)IMG_2799.jpg

Bench TrailIMG_2803.jpg

Bear Gulch TrailIMG_2805.jpg

Moses Spring TrailIMG_2809.jpg

Bear Gulch Cave TrailIMG_2815.jpgIMG_2817.jpgIMG_2818.jpg

12:30 PM – Ate our pb&j sandwiches for lunch at Bear Gulch ReservoirIMG_2823.jpgIMG_2855.jpgIMG_2821.jpg

High Peaks Trail / Juniper Canyon TrailIMG_2829.jpgIMG_2833.jpg

Tarantula #2 (see shoes for scale)IMG_2836.jpg

Balconies TrailIMG_2840.jpg

Balconies Cave TrailIMG_2843.jpg

4:00 PM – Left the park sore and tired, but we survived 9.5 miles and it was so fun! IMG_2846.jpg

Up next, Yosemite, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon!?

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Rooftop Party for My 28th Birthday

One month late to post photos from a rooftop party to celebrate my 28th birthday! 🔥

After traveling for 5 weeks to Hong Kong, Thailand, and Tokyo and then coming home with an unconfirmed stomach ulcer, my summer flew by and I didn’t get to hang out with friends much. With my birthday on a Sunday (and not on the first day of school) this year, I am so thankful to have had some of my closest friends (including Nadia & Joby home from Milwaukee!) join me for my last summer hurrah before school started. Thanks to Albee, we were able to reserve the awesome rooftop at his complex for a BBQ dinner and a chill hangout. We busted out gold and silver star balloons, enjoyed steak that Peter grilled and yummy food my mom prepared, ate around a large dining table like family, watched the sunset, lounged by the fire, ate cheesecake with macarons, had a cupcake tasting of SusieCakes from Anita & Scott, and soaked in a nice summer evening with each other’s company. It was just what I wanted for my birthday!

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10-Week Training for the SF Half Marathon

The SF Half Marathon is coming up on July 23, and it will be my FIRST half marathon, finally!! Finishing 13.1 miles will accomplish one of my 2017 New Year’s resolutions, and I can check it off my bucket list! I have a goal to beat 2 hours, which is about 9 minutes per mile. I started running once a week on Sunday morning with Anita or Joy. Then I found this 10-week training plan for a Sunday race on halfmarathons.net even though I had 11 weeks left until the race. I have been asked about my mileage and pace, so I’m blogging my training plan now that I have gotten into the habit of running 5 days a week and stayed on schedule to Week 4. See my Workout Log.

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I am dreading that I will have to keep up my training in Hong Kong for 5 weeks this summer, my last month before the race. I will have to make it happen, whether paying for the gym or waking up in the wee hours to run outside before it gets uncomfortably humid. Also, I only have a week after returning from Hong Kong to adjust to the weather back home and recover from jetlag before the race. I realized it takes hard work and discipline to train for and run a half marathon, especially having to push past mental laziness after an exhausting day of teaching first graders. I have nooo interest in running a marathon and don’t know what people think about for such long runs. It hasn’t gotten any easier or any less painful to run after 3.5 weeks, but I am slowly chipping away at my pace, getting faster and stronger, and it will be worth it once I’m done. On another but related note, I just signed up for my second 10K Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day!

Some random photos from my training over these months…

Colette’s Turning One

Wow I’ve been at Pillar long enough to watch Deb and Pastor Danny grow their family into four! Deb was my small group leader when I first came to Pillar, she initiated meeting up with me, and then she became pregnant with Cami. Then I became her small group leader a few years later and then she became pregnant with Coco. Pastor Danny has been with me in Women’s Group since the start and has supported and encouraged me a lot in this ministry over these 3 years. I’ve seen Cami born and turn one (see Camilla Turns One Today!) and Coco born and now turn one too, looking like mini Cami. So thankful for Deb and Pastor Danny, love your family!! Happy first birthday, Coco baby!!! You are so adorable, and Laurel eemo loves you! The team of ladies from Angela’s Twinkle Twinkle Baby Shower put on another fabulous party with an amazing canvas painting backdrop done by Sarah and Deb, gorgeous flowers by Jenn, and all the beautiful details by Deb! We had all-you-can-eat hot pot at Shabu House for my first time and cake from Susiecakes, and it was all delicious. Colette’s first birthday party was a fun celebration!

Open House with My First Grade Class

Last night’s Open House was very SUCCESSFUL!!! My classroom was PACKED with nearly 100 people during the hour, and 26 out of 30 students in my first grade class showed up with their families – parents, siblings, and relatives! It takes a lot of time and effort over weeks to get the classroom ready, so I am thankful to see that so many of them made the time and effort to attend Open House. I was so proud to watch my students show off what they have learned in first grade as their families celebrated their accomplishments and hard work with them! Checking off Open House means the end of the school year is just around the corner – 15 days with the students, 16 days including our last teacher day on June 9th! Enjoy a walkthrough of my first grade classroom in photos with the checklist that I make for students and families as a guide! (For the safety of children, I had to blot out as many names and faces as possible.)

Welcome to OPEN HOUSE with My First Grade Class!

360 degrees around my classroom

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Back of the Classroom (starting from the door)

Please sign in here and walk around our classroom with the checklist on the clipboard as a guide!IMG_20170516_174555

Class Helpers: See if your child has a job in our classroom for these two weeks. Ask your child what is his/her favorite classroom job and why.

Classroom Photos: These were taken at multiple events over this school year.IMG_20170516_174550

Word Wall: Test your child to read and spell some of the 100 first grade sight words.IMG_20170516_174600

Behavior Chart: Ask your child what color he/she was on today – hopefully green!

First Grade End-of-the-Year Picnic Sign-up SheetIMG_20170516_174605

Back Table: Have your child solve some math problems using the math resources available on the table (place value blocks and 120 chart).IMG_20170516_174613

Writing Wall: Your child typed this poem on Google Classroom!  Students listened to The Important Book and wrote their own versions, following the pattern of the book. Look out for your child’s copy of our class book of poems after Young Author’s Fair on Friday!IMG_20170516_174609_20170517171811185

Large Windows Side of the Classroom

Spring Trees, Plants, and Butterflies: We have art every Friday! Find your child’s art projects. Have your child tell you what a plant needs to grow.IMG_20170516_174619IMG_20170516_174634

Butterflies: Have your child tell you the life cycle of a butterfly and some facts about butterflies. Look at the 4 chrysalises, but please DO NOT touch the butterfly house.IMG_20170516_174627

Front of the Classroom

Pronouns: Ask your child to use the pronouns in the pocket chart in sentences.

Calendar: Ask your child to tell you about today’s date and yesterday/today/tomorrow. Ask your child how many days we have been in school.

Slideshow: These were taken at multiple events over this school year. Enjoy!IMG_20170516_174641

Door Side of the Classroom

Animal Adaptations: Ask your child how animals survive and grow in the 3 habitats.IMG_20170516_174703

120 Chart: See if your child can count and write the numbers from 1 to 120!IMG_20170516_174708

At Your Child’s Desk

All About Me Book: Learn more about your child and take home this book tonight!

Art Vista Portfolio: Take home your child’s collection of Art Vista projects this year.IMG_20170516_174647

FULL HOUSE FOR OPEN HOUSE!!!!!IMG_20170516_182103