Friday, July 11, 2014

Ciao From Rome!

Ciao from Italy, Rome! Finally, after a gruesome 12 hour flight we arrived to our first destination, Rome. I finally get out of the airplane and outside it is hot and very humid.  Living in California should have prepared me for this type of weather but even I couldn't stand it, and I knew my siblings couldn't stand the heat either. But I knew that the three days we would be staying in Rome would be a blast and they were!

During our trip, we went to the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, the Spanish Steps, the capital building, and the Trevi Fountain.  We walked from very early in the morning until late at night.  That morning we went to the Colosseum.  Riding the metro for the first time was a lot of fun, but the Colosseum was even better.  You can't even imagine the size of this amphitheater as it was the largest one back then and is still the largest today.   This amphitheater was able to hold 50,000 to 80,000 people   I was walking on the same place where people almost two thousand years ago sat and cheered for the gladiators fighting for their lives below.  The columns holding up the amphitheater stood like giants waiting to crush the people below.  Each column was built without cranes or any type of machinery we have today and yet they are gigantic, and are full of details.  How the people built this Colosseum without the technology we have today amazes me. 

After the Colosseum we walked to the Roman Forum which was nearby.  The Roman Forum was the center of government in ancient Rome. The Roman Forum was a huge area of land where there once stood important government buildings.  Surprisingly the Germanic people who invaded Rome weren't the cause of the destruction of the Roman Forum.  What really destroyed this great area of land was that the buildings gradually crumbled after Rome fell. The large area of land became so isolated and bare that it soon known as the Cow Plain.  Today, the only thing left is parts of the buildings, and exquisitely designed columns and arches.  Right outside the Roman Forum just a couple blocks away stood the capital building of Rome.  As you can see in the image the building full of details with statues everywhere.  We came at the right time and saw the change of the guards.  Both guards were in sync the whole time they did their salutes. 

View of the Entire Roman Forum

Capital Building

Our adventures had just begun that afternoon as we still had a lot of sightseeing to do but first we had to get gelato because isn't that what Italy is known for.  Before I even had one bite of the gelato my mouth was already watering seeing all of those delicious flavors.  There was a gelato shop at every corner in those narrow cobble-stoned streets that we walked through.  In a large cup, my 3 siblings and I chose and shared 4 different flavors every day until we were sure we had tried almost all of them.  I wish I could eat gelato every day! 

The next day we went to the Spanish Steps.  The Spanish Steps were built in between 1723-1726 by De Sanctis the Spanish Ambassador.  It was built in the Piazza Trinità dei Monti and it has a church at the top of the steps.  This Piazza also has this large fountain in the center.  Rome is full of different piazzas with miniature monopoly type cars driving around.The cars were so small they looked like monopoly cars.  We also saw horse carriages that carried people from place to place.  A couple blocks away was the Trevi fountain.  Even though it was under construction, the statues and the fountain still looked amazing!

Our last stop for the day was the Pantheon. The Pantheon is an ancient temple in Rome that has a round dome.  It was built by Hadrian and dedicated to the Roman Gods.  Pantheon means the place for gods and it became a Christian church and later a shrine.  Famous Italians kings were buried there and even the Renaissance painter Raphael was buried there as well.  As we were exiting this breath taking temple, we got caught in an extremely heavy downpour of rain with thunder and lightening. Living in California we don't get so much rain, and I have never seen lightning or heard such loud thunder.  We hid under the Pantheon for a half hour, and then ran to the nearest cafe to get something to eat. 

What we saw these two days Rome was just the beginning and there was still more to see.  To find out how we finished our fabulous vacation in Rome, look at my sisters blog, Come Somersault With Sarah.  

Have you ever traveled overseas? 
Where did you go?

Sunday, April 13, 2014

My First Triathlon

Before race
The last couple months, I have been training to do my first triathlon. A triathlon is a competition consisting of a swimming, cycling, and running.  This particular race was going to be a 400 meter pool swim, 13.5 mile bike, and a 5 kilometer run.  Finally, after two months of hard training, I did the triathlon.

That morning, I had to wake up at four a.m. It was pitch black outside, drizzling slightly, and very cold.  It wasn't the best morning to do a triathlon, but I was determined to do it anyways. I was the only child competing in this race, and I was ecstatic. We loaded my bike on the rack and drove to UCLA where the race was taking place.  When we arrived, we saw a gorgeous sunrise, and 30 minutes later, the race began. We had to arrive early to set up all the equipment at the two transition points, from swim to bike and then from bike to run.  After the swim, I quickly put on my tennis shoes, helmet, and jumped onto my bike.  After the bike ride, I went to transition area two and parked my bike, took off my helmet, and put on a running belt that had my race number. I was number 196. Swimming in the pool and running around the campus was the easiest part for me, but the bike part was difficult.  The bike course was a very hilly and biking the 13.5 miles was very hard.  During one of the bike laps, another competitor cut in front of me too closely, hit my front tire, and sent me falling to the ground.  Luckily I wasn't hurt and was able to get back onto the bike and continue the race.  It was an exhausting two hour race, but a very good experience. Here are some photos from the race.

The sun is just coming up over the pool

My race number, 196

Standing with my bike in transition area one

Getting ready to jump into the pool feet first.


Running to the finish line

After the race

Have you ever trained for something? 
How did you feel when you completed the race?

Sunday, March 30, 2014

My Adventures at Astrocamp

Photo by Ms. Harper
A few days ago, I went to Astrocamp, a camp located in the gorgeous green forests of Idyllwild. Those three days were probably the best ones I've had during camp.  We did so much like rock climbing, experimenting with gasses, swimming, making and launching rockets, and hanging out with friends. It was great to have some of my teachers, Mrs Bostrom and Mrs Duncan, as chaperons for the trip. They did a wonderful job organizing and making sure we had a great experience.

It was a long and gruesome drive that took 3 and half hours to get there. Luckily we were on a comfortable bus meant for traveling longer distances.

My cabin mates and I

When we arrived to camp, we had two afternoon classes that including rock climbing and swimming.  Rock climbing was a lot of fun, and even though some places on the rock wall were complicated to get by, I was able to make it to the top of the medium wall. In the pool, we were experiencing micro gravity.  This is how astronauts are trained before they go into space.  We couldn't touch the ground in the pool, but we had to build a cube while floating.  It was difficult to communicate with classmates as their was a no talking rule in the pool to simulate the environment in space.  Instead, we developed signs and signals for communication.  That night, I saw a beautiful deer family.  Their were two fawns and 4 adult, skinny, long legged deer.  After seeing a lot of people, they raced off into the dark, cold night.

The next morning, we experimented with gasses.  We put  a gas into two balloons and then lit them on fire.  We got a beautiful ring of fire, but unfortunately, it was so fast that I didn't get a chance to take a picture.

My Rocket, Speedy, also known as miniature Sputnik
Photo by Ms. Dickinson
We also made and launched rockets which was the  highlight of the trip. My rocket Speedy, was made out of a skinny Russian bottle that held a a drink called Kvass and weighted 175gm. The rocket had a nose made out of clay and three cardboard fins. Launching was definitely amazing because it went so high that I lost track of it in the air. It was one of the highest rockets launched.

Launch Site
I really enjoyed Astrocamp, and I hope I go back again some day.  Here is a video of a fellow student's rocket. I couldn't video my rocket because I was busy launching it.

Do you have a fun camp experience to share?

Monday, February 17, 2014

Our Latest Piano Experiences

I recently learned a new piece by Tchaikovsky, and this was my first time playing a piece by this composer. Sweet Dreams, is one of the 24 pieces that Tchaikovsky wrote as part of Album for the Young.  Although it was intended to be played by children and even dedicated to Tchaikovsky 7 year old nephew, some are are quite complicated.    

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky was born in Votkinsk, Russia, on May 7, 1840 and composed during the Romantic era. The Romantic era was very emotional unlike the classical period. He studied at a Russian conservatory, and became one of the most influential and adored composer of the Romantic era.  Tchaikovsky was a Russian composer who had a gift for creating different varieties of melodies as well as contrasting different instrument sounds.  Tchaikovsky created many orchestral compositions as well as ballets and operas.  Some of his most famous ballets are The Sleeping Beauty,The Nutcracker, and Swan Lake. 

Sweet Dreams is a beautiful piece that is melodic and peaceful.  It is a slow piece but it really sounds like a sweet dream.  

Over the last few weeks, Michael has improved greatly and since his first recording was ABC, he is now playing more difficult beginner piece. He now has learned to play two hands together and even some simple cords. He also learned all his notes over two octaves in each hand.  He practices an hour a day, and his hard work has paid off.

Who is your favorite Romantic Era Composer?

Saturday, January 25, 2014


Over the last 6 months, I have been working on a solo piano piece called Fantasy by  Mozart.  This 100 measure piece is one of Mozart's most famous compositions even though he died before fully completing it. The composition was never completed so it is believed that one of Mozart's admirers, August Eberhard Muller, completed the composition.  

Mozart was a child prodigy.  From age four he could play full symphonies and by age 6 he was already composing pieces.  As a young child, Mozart was learning from the tours he did.  He was best friends with Haydn which he later dedicated a composition to him.  On December 5, 1791, Mozart died at age 35, leaving behind 600 compositions, including works for symphonies, the piano, and the opera. Some of these compositions are considered to be the finest works in the Classical style.

I really enjoy playing this piece because the composition has a lot of different feelings to it.  At some points of this composition,  it sounds as if something bad is going to happen but then everything becomes mellow and sweet.

Who is your favorite composer?

Did you enjoy this piece?

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Running the Calabasas Classic

My siblings and I
The race day finally came.  After training for the 5k with a running group for 2 months, I was ready for the big day.   I was a little bit nervous as I was going to run in the 11-14 age category and I am only 11.  My day started on a chilly morning with the sun just starting to peek its way through the clouds.  I warmed up with my track and field group that were also getting ready to run the race.  There were thousands of people watching, walking, or running the race. Two of my swimming coaches were also there running the race with me.  While I was resting from my warm-up,  I looked around, and tried to  find the start line. Since there were so many people, I couldn't even see it! There was also a DJ warming everyone up before the race.  A giant clock counted down until 8:00 am and the horn blew the start of the race. 
Coach Lara with me at the start of the race.  

We were running a large loop around the streets in our neighborhood. The week before the race, I ran the course many times for practice and felt ready for this race.  After the half way point, I got a cup of water and poured it over my head to refresh myself.  It felt so nice that I sprinted the rest of the race.  While I was running the race, my siblings were at work making a me a sign to cheer me on.   As I made my way to the finish line, my mom, sisters, and brother cheered me.

When I had finally finished, I had run the race in 23: 45: 38 and came in 5th place in my age group and 20th overall.  The fastest girl in my age category ran the race in 20:43:61.  

My sister and I after the race

Here is a video of the start of the race.

Have you ever been in a race with this many people?

Friday, December 6, 2013


Isaac Albéniz was one of Spain’s greatest national composers who composed during the late romantic time period. He was a child prodigy who gave his first public piano performance at the age of 4. As a child, he studied at many universities and even won the Brussels Conservatory’s first prize. Franz Liszt, another famous composer,  was one of his teachers. Albéniz traveled widely, living at various places where he composed, taught, and performed.  He is most famous for his piano music, including, Iberia, an impressionistic 12-section suite that describes Spanish places and dances.  

Prelude (also known as Preludio in Spanish) is the first of five pieces in Chants d'Espagne, (Songs of Spain), published in 1892. The beginning fast part sounds like a Flamenco dancer tapping his feet on the wooden floor. The second section is a similar to the copla, a Spanish song, because it sounds like a verse that can be sung. The music changes between a solo and accompaniment that is typical Flamenco style. I've loved this song from the very first time I heard my piano teacher play it. I hope you enjoy it as well.

My brother has been watching us play for the past few years, and has now decided he wants to join the instrument fun.  He wants to play the guitar but my mom said that he is too young to learn the guitar and should start out with the piano first. It will give him a good foundation in music and reading notes.  When we recorded, he was playing for just 3 days, and this was his first song he learned by memory.  He has been practicing every single day and now has almost finished learning his first piano primary book. Like when he learned to read, he started with his alphabet. Today Michael will play for you the ABC song. 

What did Prelude sound like to you?  

Any advice or words of encouragement you want to give Michael who is just starting to learn an instrument?