Saturday, September 23, 2017

African American Shakespeare's a Midsummer Night's Dream

I've been wanting to attend one of their performances for a long time; the timing worked out this time!  Our favorite part was Helena's, performed by a really incredibly talented and hysterically funny actor.  We all had a great time.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Marin Shakespeare's Love's Labor Lost

Our eighth year of this tradition of visiting Marin Shakespeare for one of their student matinees.  This trip didn't disappoint.  I'd never seen this play before, never read it or studied it, and (admittedly) didn't even look up the plot to pre-dicuss with the girls (see previous post about Mom being a mess).  But oh, we loved it!  It was so hysterically funny that at one point G was laughing so much that the people in front of us turned around to look at her.  I was laughing too, but hearing her laughter made me laugh even more.  So much awesomeness in costumes, silly accents, silly dancing, plays on words, and more.  Perhaps the funniest bit was when the King, who had been faking a Russian accent badly, forgot his accent and switched to a southern one.  Totally, utterly hysterical and just what I needed after a day that had started off with a lot of little irritations.

As a bonus, we ran into one of the girls from K's summer baseball team, the one that did so well.  She and her Dad recognized us and came over to say hi.  It was funny to see another kid so much like K - I told her on the way home, "she's like a blond, straight-haired you."  No nonsense, somewhat androgynous in dress and appearance, a little shy but (unlike me at that age) not debilitatingly so.  Nice to see her, celebrate her ongoing baseball success, and remember how awesome all of the players were on that team.  I had my favorite, of course, but it was fun to cheer for all.

Great day!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

US Revolutionary War History Class Begins

And what an awesome class it is, mostly 10-13 year olds, grounded in AP History prep materials designed through Stanford University's "Think Like A Historian" concept.  The kids were totally engaged and I'm excited because I think that they will finally be more challenged.  I've had the hardest time finding teachers who can find the balance between the introductory/craft-type elementary school curriculum and the hard-core scholarship that is at a college level.  We're doing two AP-prep classes now and one adult-level government class and those finally feel right - challenging without being so heavily into scholarship that they are beyond boring.  Happy now and feeling so fortunate to have an excellent teacher who is also super-bright herself; I think that makes a huge difference!

Monday, September 18, 2017

When Mom Is A Mess

I tried so hard to be organized.  One morning, three sports, two kids, one class... what could go wrong?  First off, most of G's volleyball games conflict with her soccer games, which is such a shame, having to choose.  But they volleyball schedule came out WAY in advance; the soccer schedule a few days ahead of time.  And they volleyball team only has six players, so if one isn't there, they forfeit, whereas soccer has so many that some sit out every quarter.  So she chose volleyball.

My job is the back-office stuff.  Check the schedules.  Make sure laundry is done and uniforms are clean.  Get breakfast ready.  Make sure everyone has an alarm set and knows where to go and when.  Leave instructions.  Then I took off to teach (ya know, the paid job we all rely on).

For a 10:00 game, she should be there by 9:40, but they walked and arrived early, at 9:25.  Dutifully, they texted me that they had arrived and said that no one else was there.  Surreptitiously, while teaching, I check the text and am relived.  Stage one, check.

15 minutes later I quickly text again:  everyone there?  The response was a surprise:  no.  Uh oh.  That's when I checked the reminder and the color drained from my face - wrong location!  I send the coach an email, not having her phone number, still trying to teach.  She doesn't get it.  Instead I get a phone call from an unknown number that I assume must be hers.  I can't take it while teaching and so instead respond with a text, "I'm teaching."

I get, "hi, where's G."

Um, "at our parish gym."

Response, which I unfortunately now expected, "we are at [another gym, not in our town, not sure where it is.]"

Me:  "So sorry."

Response:  "Did you forget?"

Me:  "Uh, misread schedule."

Response:  "We just forfeited."

Me:  :-(

Then, soon:  "Well, bring her now, at least she can scrimmage with us."

Me:  "I can't.  I'm teaching and she's on foot."

Shoot.  Two games missed (this one and the soccer game she skipped for this one).  She then skipped walking to soccer photos, saying, "I didn't feel like it."  And then K missed her basketball practice, first because I couldn't get out of class in time and then - something, finally, not my fault! - because there was a fire at the gym.

I got home from class, sent a long email apology to the team, fell asleep, and woke up too many hours later to a nice email from the coach telling me about the times that she messed up various schedules.  I realized just how bad I'd felt when reading her kindness made me burst into tears.

I still feel rotten.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Thinkering Day One

Now starting its eighth year, Thinkering began with a drama class led by teaching artists with SF Shakespeare.  Awesome guys, awesome kids, awesome first day.  11 kids, most aged 10-13, and a ton of fun.  Love this photo, too, with all of its fun and silliness!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

A Reason to Remember

Impressed:  A Reason to Remember, a traveling exhibit developed by the Institute for Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, to the Library from August 1st to September 29th.  The exhibit presents victims and survivors of the Holocaust through the stories of five Jewish families living in Roth, Germany.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Say What?

The girls both bought chocolate frogs in Hogsmeade, but were taken aback by the packaging:

A frog shaped like chocolate?  This doesn't sound vegetarian!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

An awesome trip; G said that it was the best day of her life and the rest of us didn't disagree.  We were among the first to enter, with K bouncing up and down - even I got a bit excited/emotional.  How utterly awesome to see a beloved book series come to life!  The one main ride was an incredible experience and K said that the whole trip would have been worth it even if we had had to stand in line all day just for that ride.  But we didn't, lines were short, and we got to see everything in the park multiple times, plus ride "The Forbidden Journey" SIX TIMES.  The girls also got picked at "Ollivanders" to have their wands selected and the wizard told them that he could "feel the strong connection between them."  Oh yeah!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Basketball Begins

I'm not ready for the school year to start, but no one told all of our sport and classes that!  For this one, college basketball athlete/scholars are the coaches, a mentoring model that I like!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Fun hair

Her grandma sent her money for her birthday and she saved half, then wanted to spend the other half on... wigs.  She spent a lot of time looking for just the right ones.  Fun!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

An Eclipse Postscript

A couple of days after the eclipse, we were working on our history reading and came across the fact that Nat Turner was inspired by a total eclipse.  Thinking it a sign from God, he decided that the time was right to rebel and did so not long after in 1831.   As we read about the sad outcome (a crushed rebellion and worse conditions for those enslaved), I hoped that Bishop Thomas Gumbleton was right when he said (more recently) that "whatever is done for the truth will make a difference." Perhaps Nat Turner sowed the seeds for a more effective abolitionist movement and ultimately emancipation a generation later.

Monday, August 21, 2017


So interesting!  I was in a meeting, but everyone took a break to go outside.  It got a bit colder and the light changed.  I called the girls, who were also excited, using their glasses to watch.  Later, K got to discuss it with her new astronomy class; awesome timing!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Honoring a Best Friend

Today I spoke at a childhood friend's "celebration of life," which was heartbreaking.  Lizzy passed away from a rare and aggressive form of ovarian cancer in May.  She was my best friend for most of my childhood.  We met when we were both seven, swam competitively together for many years, and then went to the same high school.  As adults, our lives rarely intersected geographically, though she was at our wedding and I was at her first baby shower, so we did share important milestones.  Still, our friendship has always felt like a part of me, perhaps because we were both pretty good about keeping in touch through long letters throughout the year and, more recently, newsy birthday and Christmas cards.

I spoke to her about a week before she died, which I am so grateful for.  She spoke with peace and certainty that we would see each other again and that she would soon be in the embrace of her parents, who each died just a few years ago.  She also spoke about her wonderful kids and I got to see their courage, humor, and strength in action when they spoke at her celebration.  Boy, was I impressed.

It was a lovely afternoon and a privilege to honor her friendship by revisiting our childhoods together.  As I told those gathered, she set a standard for best friends that has been hard to beat.  I loved hearing more about her from others, especially her kids, and it was a blessing to reconnect with her sisters.

Love you, Lizzy.

We had both just turned eight in this photo

Synchronized swimming duet partners, age 11-ish.  By age ten, we were doing swim-a-thons in which we'd swim up to six miles at a time!

One of my supportive and wonderful daughters wrote this on a napkin and handed it to me when I returned to my seat, a word-hug that meant a lot.  I later found encouragement written by them all over my notes.  "We love you, Mom."  "You are doing great!"  etc.  This was nice because in person they just teased me for weeping so easily and so much....

Thursday, August 17, 2017

An Evening With the Giants

Great evening.  Thanks Tim and Susie for the tickets!  I bought a standing-room one for me and stood behind the girls section, watching them watch the game.  That was my favorite part of the evening, getting to see them in the moment, really enjoying each other's company.  (Though it is worth noting, for the baseball-superstitious, that they've won every time we've been there this year. Hmmmmm....)

Monday, August 14, 2017

Constructing a Telescope

A really cool event at a local library - free! - the kids got to create a Galileoscope in preparation for the eclipse!  Looks foggy today, but the claim is that we should be able to see Saturn's rings with it.  Cool!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

More Garden Goodies

Well, we're not surviving the winter on our crop, but it is still fun to harvest!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Birthday Celebrations

This would NOT be my reaction if someone gave me a sewing machine.  But glad it was hers!

Then we went to the zoo, where all of the animals seemed to be out in force to celebrate G's big day.  The tiger was pacing, the ostrich pooped, the otter was jumping, the hippo pooped, the lions were alert and the snow leopard was pacing, the prairie dogs pooped... well, there was a lot of energy around pooping.  We also saw a lot of activity from the cutie black bear cubs, the grizzlies, the red panda and well, pretty much everything there except the polar bears (hiding in back) and the kangaroos (lying down and not moving).  It might have been the time of day (afternoon), the weather (cool), or the lack of crowds, but we had a great time...

Mexican wolves, the reason we went

Almost posing
Definitely posing

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

When You Can't Wait for the Laundry to Finish

Puck's "baby" (stuffed animal) was smelly and gross and so I threw it in the washing machine while he wasn't looking (he was in the other room eating). Somehow, he knew where it was; this is him looking for it while I was folding the dry clothes.  Cute!  He's a smart, sweet puppy....

Tuesday, August 8, 2017


I absolutely had to get work done, uninterrupted, thinking through syllabi, a web site redesign, and a major assessment project.  (Plus minor projects - syllabi posted, proposal submitted, book edited, and more).  G committed to come along and work herself, without interrupting.  In fairness, she didn't... I just let myself get distracted by her studiousness as she spend hours reading about marine biology.  Cool kid, good company.  Reminds me of coming with my mom to the library when she spend hours there studying, though I was older...