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?

Monday, October 21, 2013

Canon in D Major, Piano and Violin Duet

Every few months, my sister and I learn a few piano and violin duets.  Canon in D major by Johan Pachelbell, happens to be one of my favorite duets.  It’s hard to imagine a time when this piece wasn't a wedding favorite as it is commonly.  What is really interesting about this piece is that it is not a happy, high energy piece, nor is very melancholy, but it gives the feeling that it is being performed for a very special occasion. 

Not much is known about Canon in D major even though it is Pachelbel’s most famous piece. We don’t even know the exact date it was composed, although historians think it was composed around 1680.  Some people believe that the music was written for Bach’s brother, Johann Christoph’s wedding, on October 23, 1694.  Parts of the bass piece was used in Handel’s, Haydn’s, and Mozart’s compositions.   

Pachelbell was born sometime in August 1653 in Nuremberg, Germany and died around in early March 1706.  He wrote over 500 classical music pieces during his lifetime and composed in the baroque period. He was an organist in his hometown of Nuremburg, and even taught the man who became Bach’s teacher. 

This piece has a lot of emotion to it and also a lot of challenging parts to it.  When playing a duet, both players have to listen to each other in order to play the piece well.  Sarah and I always have trouble with that as we both want to be in charge, however for this piece, the piano set the beat. I am glad that in the end we succeeded in working together well. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

Have you ever heard this piece at a wedding? 

Which piece did you choose for your wedding?

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Visit to Yosemite National Park

Yosemite was a gorgeous place and if I could, I would visit there again.  We went with our grandparents and it was an incredible 5 days.  Yosemite has the most amazing view with waterfalls, rocks, pine trees, and other spectacular scenes.  People come from around the world to see this wondrous park. 

Every day there was a new activity planned.  On the first day, we decided to go hike up to Vernon Falls. The hike was all up hill and difficult, but it was worth it.  Vernon falls was the most gorgeous waterfall I had ever seen.  As the water crashed down the waterfall shot out this spectacular rainbow with all the colors. When you were on the top of the waterfall, you could feel the mist of the waterfall shooting out and you could smell the pine forest ahead.  We rested at Vernon Falls for about a half hour, and then my family and I split. My grandma and my twin brother and sister went down back to camp while my grandpa and my sister Sarah and I trekked up to Nevada Falls.  Nevada Falls also had a beautiful waterfall.   

Photo taken by Michael
Beauty of the park

Ready set go!
After this long trek up and down it was close to 6pm so we decided to go to the river by our place.  The boat was big and we were in the river for a while jumping out of the boat and paddling.   

Paddling with the wind

The nights were something we all looked forward to because that meant s'mores and fire. Every morning, we would collect wood for the night’s camp fire. 

Making Smores

Another day I enjoyed was horseback riding.  Sarah and I each went on a horse to mirror lake.  Bart my horse was a beautiful milk chocolate color. Sarah had a mule named Ned who was dark black with a touch of white on his face.  I hadn’t been on a horse by myself for a while, but I didn’t have to worry because Bart took over.  Yosemite is a place that I will never forget, and I would love to go camping here again.  

Getting ready to ride the horses

Have you ever been to Yosemite?

Friday, August 9, 2013

Plants and Flowers in Maui

red hibiscus
Hawaii has some of the most exotic and amazing flowers and colors.  Last year and the year before, I did a post on exotic fruit that we saw on the island. However, this year, I decided to writing about all the gorgeous plants and flowers that we saw. 

Hawaii's state flower is the yellow hibiscus also known as the pua aloalo.  This flower comes in yellow, red, and pink. Hawaii adopted the yellow hibiscus in 1988 as the official state flower.The hibiscus is also found in Asia and the Pacific islands. It is believed that there were originally only five hibiscus species native to the Hawaiian islands.My favorite hibiscus flower is the yellow one because yellow is a cheery color and matches the flower. It is also my favorite color.

Yellow hibiscus (State Flower)


pink hibiscus

Red Ti

The Red Ti plant, also known as the Cordyline Fruticosa, is more commonly called the Hawaiian Good Luck plant or simply the Ti plant. This evergreen palm is from the Agave family and is still used in Hawaii today to make grass skirts for traditional celebrations.

There are many varietals of the Red Ti plant, some of which are more popular for use as indoor potted plants, while others are grown outdoors for landscaping, hula skirt production, or as accents in flower arrangements. The Red Ti rhizomes are also edible, although they are rarely eaten by humans today.

Red Ginger

The Red Ginger plant is native to parts of Melanesia.
The flower comes in a few different colors such as red, pink, or white.
This plant can grow up to 15 feet (5 m) tall, but usually much less.
Here in Hawaii, Red Ginger is usually found growing at the edge of lowland forests, trails and roads. The flowers make beautiful, long-lasting cut flowers and are popular for tropical flower arrangements.

Wow, that is a huge leaf.  It is bigger than my sisters hand.

Singapore Plumeria, Singapore Graveyard Flower, Frangipani

Here in Hawaii, Singapore Plumeria is grown in sunny places and usually in lower elevation.  The flowers are wonderfully fragrant. Singapore Plumeria flowers are made into leis or worn tucked behind the ear. This beautiful flower surprisingly is poisonous.  The milky latex sap can irritate the skin.

Allamanda, Yellow Allamanda, Golden Trumpet

Here in Hawaii, Allamanda grows in wet to areas at lower elevations and is especially common along roadsides. This naturalized flowering vine is native to northern South America and Brazil. Just like the Singapore Plumeria, the Allamanda is poisonous if cut or damaged.

Acacia Trees

The Koa Acacia is one of the largest species of trees in the world with more than 800 different types growing in warm, tropical and desert-like regions of both hemispheres. The Koa Acacia is native to Hawaii.  It is my favorite tree because I love the flat tree tops.

Haleakalā Silversword
Haleakalā Silversword is an interesting plant and is part of the daisy family.  This plant grows on the Haleakala Volcano. The Haleakala Silversword blooms one time in its life and then the entire plant dies.The plant can live up to 50 years before ever producing a flower. When it does bloom, the flower is a long red stalk that grows 2 meters high.

Palm trees

Have you seen any of these flowers?

What is your favorite plant?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


In Hawaii, a popular evening activity is a Luau.  A Luau is a Hawaiian feast and celebration.  At a Luau, their is usually hula dancers, Hawaiian singers, fire and knives dancers.  The tradition at Luaus is to eat on taro tree mats and eat with the hands instead of using utensils.  But we didn't do that and just followed the modern etiquette of eating with forks and knives.  Right before the show, there were activities for the children, such as face painting and bracelet making.  I learned how to make a bracelet out of taro leaves. 

At the beginning of the show, there was a princess that hula danced for us.  Her skirt was made out of taro leaves. She shook there hips really fast, and I can see her skirt going in a fast circle. The next thing the dancers performed for us was the fire dance. They spun the fire in circle really fast, and later added knives to the dance. It was exciting to watch them dance with such dangerous props and not get burnt or cut. 

Michael's face paint

Learning how to hula dance

With the performers after the show

Photo with a fire dancer

Photo with the sunset

Have you ever gone to a Luau?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Birds of Maui

Hannah wrote:

In Maui I saw a lot of birds. The first bird I saw was a bird that had a red face. Red is my favorite color. My brother and me took a picture of it. It was very hard to take one. My brother Michael did it instead. There was another bird that was all red. We also saw a lot of baby chickens. The next bird I saw was a Chukar.We saw it at the Volcano. It was orange, gray, brown, black, and red. It had black stripes.


Northern Cardinal male
Hannah had contributed a bit to the post because she and her brother Michael had taken many of the photos below.  One of my favorite bird we saw was Northern Cardinal.  The Northern Cardinal differentiates colors.  The females are yellowish brown, but the males are bright red.  We only saw the males because they stood out among the green trees.

Red-crested Cardinal

Another bird that is similar to the Northern Cardinal is called the Red-crested Cardinal imported from Brazil. The Red Crested Cardinal is the same color regardless of gender unlike the Northern Cardinal.

Common Myna
  This island also has many Common Mynas everywhere This bird likes to hangout near hotels and airports.  These Mynas were introduced from India to supposedly control insect pests.  But surprisingly enough, these birds are not found in either Europe or North America but have been on the Hawaiian islands since the mid 1800s.  I like that this bird has a large white spot on its wing which is visible when it flies.

Spotted Dove
Similar to the Mynas, we also saw many Spotted Doves near the beach. We would often see them running across the sand.  They have been on the islands for many generations.

 One of the most majestic birds that we saw was a large white bird called an Egret.  These birds evolved on the African plains where they followed grazing animals.  Cattle Egrets were introduced to Hawaii in 1950's to control cattle pests.  We see the many Egrets while my mom and I go running in the morning. 

Red Junglefowl Cock

Red Junglefowl Cock is another surprising bird to see on an island. These roosters are most common on Kaui because there are no mongoose to eat them on that island, but we still found them begging for food in places were people hung out. 


 The Chukar is another bird on Maui.  These birds lives in dry, rocky areas in the Middle East and have also adapted in similar places like Hawaii.  They are mostly found at Haleakala volcano in Maui which is exactly where we took this photo.

All of these birds were beautiful and I hope you enjoyed reading this post.

What interesting birds have you see?

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Boat Trip to Molokini

Our next journey in Maui was a boat tour to three different snorkeling spots.  The three places we visited were Molokini island, Turtle Town, and La Perouse Bay (south tip of the island)  to watch the dolphins. 

Our first stop was Molokini island, a crescent shaped lush reefed island with over 250 species of fish and other sea animals. Because we were further out in the ocean, we put on wetsuits to keep warm. The cool thing about this cruise ship was that it had a terrific water slide.  There were always fish swimming around the slide so when you reach the bottom of the slide, you would splash in right next the fish.  The reef in this area was incredible with trumpet fish, parrot fish, beautiful coral, and other fish species.  I even saw a "snake" (eel) as we called it.  Fish were swimming all around us and it was the best snorkel spot we went to in the entire trip. But that wasn't the highlight of the cruise for me.


Molokini Island
The next stop was Turtle Town and I enjoyed this stop the most.  This snorkeling spot is called turtle town because it is where all of the turtles come to get their "cleaning" as the crew calls it.  The turtles come by and fish clean the moss growing on them.  The first turtle we saw was when the boat stopped and everyone was getting on their snorkeling gear.  The turtle was right next to our boat sticking its head out.  But I saw 2 more turtles while in the water.  As soon as I went down the water slide, I had to swim to the reef, and once I was their, I saw a huge turtle.  This turtle seemed to like all of the attention it was getting from all of the other snorkelers because it stayed in its place and swam next to us.  But later the turtle got tired and started swimming away.  Hannah and I followed the turtle until it went underneath a reef and was out of sight.

We saw a saw a huge sea turtle by our boat


Gorgeous view of Molokini Island.    

The last stop was La Perouse Bay where the spinner dolphins like to hang out.  These dolphins are extremely active and like to follow the boat.  They followed our boat and even did a few tricks.  My mom made a video of these dolphins below.

Have you ever gone on a boat trip? 
Where did you go?

Monday, July 1, 2013

Road to Hana

View from the road
Early in the morning, at around 6 am, my family set off on the road to Hana, on Maui.  Hana is on the other side of the island taking about 2 and a half hours to drive if you were to go straight through. However, it is an all day trip if one makes stops along the way. On the way, my mom played a CD that guided and explained about the different trees, waterfalls, flowers, beaches, bays, and hiking trails that we saw along the way. This road was very curvy and green with just a few towns along the way. We drove through this rainforest and at a few of the stops, we got caught in a downpour of rain. Maui has a spot that is the second wettest spot on earth coming after Kauai which is another island on Hawaii that my family visited last year. The CD guide told us that we would be crossing over 57 bridges along the way. 

Twin Falls
Our first stop along the road was a gorgeous waterfall called the Twin Falls.  It is called the Twin Falls because there are two mini waterfalls combining into one. This was a gorgeous hike through a jungle with exotic flowers and fruit trees.  We saw many banana trees, coconut trees, and papaya trees.  It was still cold as it was 7 am so we didn’t swim in this pool but we did in the next one.  The next waterfall we hiked down to was a pretty big one with a deep pool.  I was the bravest of all of us to jump into the frigid water first.  After I jumped in, my mom said that the last one in was a rotten egg and shortly after that, we were all in the water shivering.  But as we were coming out of the pool, rain started pouring like cats and dogs. It was something I have never seen.  But the rain paused and we soon started driving on the cliffs of the mountains.  It was a gorgeous site seeing the turquoise water splash against the white sand beach with green rainforest cliffs above.  

View from the road

Wading into a cold pool formed by a waterfall

Our next stop along the way was lava cave.  It was pitch black inside and very rocky making us take flash lights along.  This lava tube was formed approximately 960 years ago when lava sprewed up from under ground and flowed to the ocean. Lava flowed to the bottom and the top cooled forming a hard crust.  The lava continued to flow for about 2 years making it the 18th largest cave in the world.  This cave had pointy icicle looking things that were called stalactites and only grew one inch every thousand years.  When lava flowing through the cave touches the ceiling and then drops again, the lava makes the pointy shape. When it hardens, it forms stalactites. After the cave there was a maze made out of trees with red gigantic leaves.  It was a difficult maze because almost at every corner you would reach a dead end.   


Just made it out of the maze

After the lava cave, we drove to Hana a little town with gorgeous red sand and black sand beaches. At the beaches, we saw many mongooses that were skittering around.  When the early settlers arrived, there were many rats that were pests, and the Mongooses were brought to the island to eat the rats. The problem is that rats are nocturnal and mongoose are diurnal and the two never seemed to meet each other.  Soon the mongooses were eating birds and eggs and are now even bigger problem for the endangered animals. This is just the beginning of these once in a life time beaches and sites of Hana and the rest of them will be posted on my sister's blog, Come Somersault With Sarah. 

 Where do you enjoy going for a drive?