The Mercado Family

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Preschool Summer Job

Since our wonderful friends, the Loosli family, moved at the beginning of the summer, my girls and I decided to take on their tradition of holding some summer preschool classes at our home as a good way for the girls to make some money and have some experience. Victoria was an assistant to Analee Loosli for two summers when they held it at their house. This summer, she took on the "lead" role and Karissa was the assistant. We only held two sessions this summer since we weren't home very much, but we're hoping to do more next summer, especially since it went so well! One mom kept saying we should have done it every week, so maybe we can even get in 4 sessions next summer if we plan it right.

Victoria and Karissa planned for the first session on our way home from Disneyworld. The theme was transportation. I was impressed at how well they planned a variety of activities and knew how to alternate between active activities, structured, free play, and "circle time". I guess having come to work with me many times gave them a good basis for how to lay out a preschool lesson. Even the day of, the girls were very professional and the boys did a great job "staying out of their way". They supported the girls by cooperating and participating when appropriate.
First session circle time.

A game the girls created that involved the children moving like different modes of transportation.

Our second session was all about bugs. We had a few extra kids and one of them was a fair bit younger, but I had invited him on purpose, thinking he would be a good fit. After I had watched him a week before at playgroup, I knew he was going to be a bit too young, so I assigned Austin to be his special buddy. Austin was wonderful! He stuck with him and guided him gently to where he needed to be. Austin got some of the pay for that session! (We charged $5 per kid for the two hours).

I am so proud of my kids for being such great preschool teachers! I have no expectations of them doing this when they're grown up, but if they want to do it over the summer at Red Bell when they're 16, they will be hired there for sure!

Story time at second session.
Hunting for bugs. Yes, some of the older ones are almost as tall as Karissa.

Looking at the bugs in the compost bin.

Bug yoga.

Snack time: ants on a log.

Austin and his buddy making the craft.

They colored plates and glued on spots to make lady bugs.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

I Love My Family!

Jason and I celebrated our 19th anniversary last week. We went to dinner that night to get Indian food, my favorite!! It wasn't much on our actual anniversary, but we've been celebrating with our time at the Journey concert last month, some time at the temple, and our weekly bike rides we get to go on in preparation for our triathlon in a couple of weeks. This Saturday, my good friend Gayla wants to come over and have us leave for 4 1/2 hours while she hangs with the kids. She loves doing that about once a year. My kids love it too! Since it will be after 3, the last session of the temple is at 3, we will do our ride in the afternoon, followed by a run, to get a good training session in, and then soak in the hot tub at the Summit. Sounds like a good date to me!

Happy Anniversary to us!!
Victoria was at Girl's Camp last week and I have to say that we did have some quieter moments! We missed her as well, and all her siblings gave her very sweet hugs when she returned. 
This is Jade, Victoria's new friend from the other ward she met last year at camp. They rekindled their friendship this year. They made these awesome crafts with the Detroit Temple pictures. The theme for camp was: Decisions Determine Destiny, and that is what she wrote on her frame. 
Someone had to keep up the hair-doing while Victoria was gone. Karissa found out how to make her own cats ears using her very own hair and pipe cleaners!

Karissa and Leia
I convinced them to go on a bike ride with me to the Dairy-go-Round to get ice cream, while Victoria was gone. It was a fun 7 mile round trip!

Another day, we made homemade Kona Ice, after having them go to the grocery store with me to pick out their own items for a meal for under $10 each. They did great and were super helpful!
Just blend up ice so it's like a snow cone and add melted freeze pop juice. They were in heaven!
Erik lost a tooth at playgroup. It was so loose, it just fell out!

This week, Austin's been at cub scout day camp.  I got to go today as a chaperone. It was super fun, but I have a lot of respect for those leaders in charge of that!

I love all these moments with my family! They're so great!!

Monday, July 30, 2018

Fun in the Sun

We recently returned home from a fabulous vacation in Southern California. We had many opportunities to swim, be with family, and experience fun places. One of the coolest things was staying at my dad's "new" house which was the same house my grandparents lived in when I was growing up. It has been remodeled recently and is just perfect for them to live in and for us to visit with the pool and orchard just outside the home! Some of my very first memories occurred in that home.

My favorite part was visiting with family and friends I hadn't seen in a while, as well as those I have seen recently, but it's always fun to see, and some I hadn't even met! Our kids are extremely social, so this was a highlight for them as well.

Here are some of the things we did and the people we visited with.

They were very excited to pick fruit from the orchard!

And eat it!
Bonus: Gramms and Abuelo were there as well!
My step brother, Terry, and his kids Ben and Audrey arrived the day after we got there. Audrey is 12 and Ben is 10.
Everything is always better with cousins!

Jumping contest
The pool was a definite favorite.

We went to Carpenteria Beach.
 It's a little farther, but such a fun beach!

Austin and Ben boogie boarding

How many grandpas does it take to put in an umbrella?
Eating burgers from The Spot

Audrey totally reminded me of my cousin Candace and they're not even related! Her smile, laugh, voice, tan skin, and height to be exact!

The next day, after more swimming in the pool, we had a big get-together for the close family in the area.
Tyler and Jackson are in the water with the others.

Terry, and his cousin, Heather, the mother of Jackson and Tyler.

Aunt Connie, Laura and Richard, Audrey and Ben's other grandparents (who are originally from Michigan, of all places), Heather and her boys Jackson and Tyler, along with Terry, Gramms and Abuelo, Grandma and Grandpa, and us for our BBQ. This house has always seen many BBQs over the past 40+ years!

Another favorite of the trip was Universal Studios and Harry Potter World! We've looked forward to Harry Potter World for a long time. We are big Potter fans at our house. We thoroughly enjoyed the experience, rides, lunch at The 3 Broomsticks, and our butter beers. We had told the kids we would save up for wands for each of them from there. They were the only souvenir, besides our Disney items bought for a very good deal online, that we got them.

We really liked the rest of the park too. It has really changed since I last went there!
I loved seeing our name on this building on the tram ride where they demonstrate the rain storm. I had gone on the tram ride for years as a kid and never noticed Mercado written there!
The next day it was back to the pool and then Ben and Audrey had to leave...
Our lifeguard boys

They will miss each other!
Then another day at the beach though this day was at the tide pools.

One very good accomplishment for Erik was that he added another food to his palate- English muffins!!

He ate about 5 this day!

We celebrated Pioneer Day at my old church building, from my very first days, with a breakfast and some fun activities, like this tug-of-war.

We went to the duck pond in Simi Valley where I went for many different activities as a kid.

And met with Diana, my very first friend when we moved to Simi.

Her twins and my kids hit it off well, though her son was with his grandpa. Diana's husband works for Honda and mine works for Ford!
I really enjoyed going to church at the Tarzana Ward where my grandparents attended way back when. It's kind of a small ward now, but I love going to church in different areas and seeing the similarities at all of the wards and branches throughout the world! It's always comforting to know what to expect when we go to church. I met a lady who knew my grandpa Oscar and had some great stories to tell me about how he always made sure everyone had a turkey at Thanksgiving and the kids who didn't have Christmas gifts would get a bike from him. He was always a very giving man! The lady who told me about him gave the Relief Society lesson and she passed out See's Candy as a treat which was so perfect since that was my grandma Carrie's job in Hollywood before she had kids, selling See's Candy, and her favorite thing for the rest of her life!

The first Sunday we went with Gramms and Abuelo and the second Sunday we met my step brother Kevin and there and got to meet his girlfriend Cherylee. They were just passing through, but it was a great quick visit.

That Sunday was the day of meeting people since Jason's cousin Neil, who works in Hollywood, came for dinner with his girlfriend Veronica. Jason and I have been married 19 years and I never got to meet Neil til then! We kept missing paths with him, but finally caught up to him! He and Veronica are part of the camera crew for Avatar. They had some pretty cool things to tell us about the film making industry. He's filmed other movies and shows, including Dancing With the Stars. It seems that he and Veronica are living their Hollywood dream!

My kids really liked meeting them and talked their ears off!
After our dinner with Neil, we scooted off to the temple to meet the granddaughter of one of the families Jason lived with on his mission to Chile. She wasn't even born yet when he was there! He was very close to the family and she is serving at the LA temple. It was so great meeting Sister Pino!
She's the little one next to Victoria. 

We got married here 19 years ago!
After the temple we went the rest of the way down to Legoland. We had heard conflicting reports about whether or not our kids would like it, or at least the girls since they're older, but it turns out it was great! We enjoyed seeing the use of Lego's for everything and thought the rides were fun too. We had researched and knew which rides were similar to each other so we could avoid duplicates. We went on a water ride toward the beginning of the day and got totally soaked! We basically went through a tidal wave. Since there weren't many people on that ride yet, the kids rode it three more times in a row! Jason and I had had enough water after the first round, so we just watched as they got completely drenched over and over!

All Lego's, and some shrubbery!

At the Sea Life aquarium, this sting ray kept coming to the glass and smiling at us!
After a day of rest and more swimming at Grandpa's, we went for one more excursion the day before we left. We went to the LA Science Museum and saw the rocket Endeavour. We also saw a very cool IMAX movie about space and other cool exhibits. I had never gone to this museum before in my years there, so it was new to me!

A diver feeding the sharks in the tanks.

The touch tank.

Thanks Grandma and Grandpa, it was a blast!!