Thursday, February 25, 2010


Watching the dissection of a cow's eye(similar to a human's and therefore an important learning model).

Learning about mutant DNA; DNA model behind.

Chaotic pendulum; apt reference to complexity science! (Don't worry, we discuss critical hermeneutics, too! :-)

This was cool... listening carefully to try to determine where in the car engine the problematic sound was coming from. A lot harder than it looks and it led me to renewed respect for car mechanics.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

King Tut

An incredible exhibit; last time I saw it was 30 years ago, at the old DeYoung, with my Aptos Middle School class and my friend Sabrina Lau. I was amazed this time at the brightness of the colors and the beautiful condition of everything.

I was also moved by something that I don't recall from 30 years ago; Tut was buried with his two still-born children, both about five months from conception, both carefully mummified just as he was. The trajedy of those losses is so human, a pain still something so unfortunately easy to relate to; it carried rather startling and unexpected emotion in the midst of an experience that was otherwise about so much that is unknown.

The photos are from afterward; no photos in the exhibit, of course. The one of both girls together is from the top of the DeYoung's obervation tower, looking toward the Academy of Science.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Priceless Gem of Perfection...

"For no matter how many mountain ranges I'd visited in the past, no matter how many views had won my heart, what was spread before me, before us, was a priceless gem of perfection, an unsurpassed, unparalleled vision of glory."

Kev Reynolds wrote this line about a valley view at the end of the Haute Route trek into Chamonix Valley in France. It is such an eloquent description that the words have stuck with me, 16 years after first reading them. No view have they ever more appropriately described than that which we saw at Inspiration Point, above Yosemite Valley, earlier this month. The incredible beauty of the park was matched only by the joyfully exuberant presence of these two incredibly wonderful and gorgeous girls, created in the image of One who must have created such beauty just so that our hearts would swell with this glimpse of divine love.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tennessee Valley Ranger Hike

Oh, fabulous day! Thanks to rangers David and Shannon, we even had experts to help us interpret what we saw, which included not just the gorgeous day and maverick waves at the beach, but two bobcats, a huge California newt, a gorgeous tree frog, a Western Terrestrial garter snake, and assorted insects (tick, sowbug) and birds (turkey vulture, red tailed hawk). Our wonderful day was made even more special when Kathleen joined us - what a treat!

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Vibrating Hum of Joyful Chaos

We started a book club, inviting friends from different local HS groups to participate and selecting six months worth of books in advance. So far, we've had 10-14 kids each time and have "discussed" (played) E. D. Baker's The Frog Princess (not the Disney version with a similar name) and Arthur Godine's "Swallows and Amazons," both of which are favorites. Families came from as far as Vallejo in the north and Mountain View in the south and we had a blast, with a vibrating hum of joyful chaos from the kids testifying as to their feelings about these experiences.

Art projects (painting castles, landscapes, creating dimensional ponds with tissue, building sail boats), science projects (making a compass), themed-snack construction (eating "insects"), a treasure hunt, and lots of creative free play were all activities designed to enhance the already joyful reading experience with friendships and play. The moms knew it was working when we overheard them say, "let's play the book!" and then they did, acting out characters and creating their own adventures.

K and G love it; their only complaint is that we don't do it more than once a month. Next month: Frances Hogdston Burnett's "The Secret Garden." Katherine especially is FULL of ideas for projects related to that one.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Bohart Museum of Entemology in Davis

K refers to herself as an entemologist and is interested in everything about insects (especially live ones). Thanks to Stephanie for setting this up so that we could have a tour! The first photo is of friends and K before we went in.

Most of the insects are dead and catalogued; it was fascinating to see how many different kinds of insects are part of the collection (seven million!) G is shown looking at a tarantula, I believe (yes, I know it isn't an insect.)

They also had live insects that both girls got to hold; unfortunately, my camera battery died just as a walking stick started to crawl with interest up G's shirt!  A friend and K are shown here looking at one of many, many drawers filled with catalogued butterflies.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Chess Class

When we were invited to join some friends for a local chess class, my instinct was to pass. Fortunately, I asked K and she expressed enthusiasm. Now, she knows WAY more than either Charles or I about it. Watching makes me wish I were better at it - definitely good mental exercise, to anticipate both your next moves and those of your opponent.

G tries too. Maybe in a few years... (our poor friend, shown here, couldn't have been happy when she wiped the pieces off the board shortly after he patiently showed her how to set them up!)

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sugarloaf Playdate

Fairies ready to party.

Fairies at work digging in the mud.

Beauty and hard work combine! What a fabulous day.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Making Pizza and Visiting a Taqueria for Spanish class

Gabriana cutting aceitunes (olives) for her pizza. She's picking up the language quickly, but most liked being allowed to use sharp scissors during this particular class!

Allessandra looks on as Katherine puts together her pizzas. Delicioso!

The class took a walk to a local taqueria on Mission Street and Inez helped each student to independently place his or her order in Spanish. Un buen viaje!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Fun at Home

We love our dog!

Dancing in costumes, themes now obscure, but fun at the time.