Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Wildcare Tour

K complained that I don't organize enough field trips for she and her friends (various clubs apparently don't count), so I set up a very fascinating tour of a local wildlife rescue center for K and friends. Thanks to Anya of Wildcare for being so engaging and educational. We saw white and brown pelicans, a tortoise, a peregrine falcon, an owl, a crow, a turkey vulture, an acorn woodpecker, a cormorant, and more. All with stories about their survival and near-misses. It was the last day of a visit with cousins and they seemed to enjoy themselves (one wants to be a vet); especially when the acorn woodpecker repeatedly stuck its tongue out at them. Really - photo evidence (below) proves it!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Angel Island Picnic and Play

Beautiful views, a fun ferry ride, and a bit of sunshine in the middle of a bay surrounded by summer fog. Add blackberry picking and that equates to lots of fun.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Discovery Kingdom

A lot of mixed feelings about this place and this day. It is no doubt fun, especially for the kids, but for me too, as I find great joy in seeing the kids giddy with happiness and K certainly was - the bigger the roller coaster, the better. On the other hand, watching your wee child fly through the air, seemingly unprotected, at great speeds is less than enjoyable. In addition, the park is organized terribly - the lines are infinitely longer than they would be with some simple efficiencies in place and the workers perpetuate the delays by moving at the speed of snails. Ugh. One highlight was the butterfly exhibit - fabulous, incredible, gorgeous, fantastically colored butterflies at close range:

The touch-able bat rays were cool, too! (cousin pictured)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Lake Lagunitas Ranger Walk

This was a perfect day, one where I really felt rich beyond measure. The weather was perfect, the chorus of birds enhanced the enchanted sense of the lushness of life, and our examination of animals large and small reinforced our wonder at everything that surrounded us: beauty, life, music, knowledge, and friends.

With rangers David and Shannon helping the discovery process, we saw pied-billed grebes, western turtles, double-crested cormorants, acorn woodpeckers, toads, newts, bullfrogs, and more.
In one sweep of the net in the water at the edge of the lake, we found the following tiny beings: waterboatmen, mosquito fish, a snail, water mite, a damselfly nymph, a pacific gomph nymph (dragonfly), and a mayfly nymph. Nearby, the marvelous rangers pointed out the recently vacated exoskeleton of a dragonfly.

We also learned about the "seep patch" on the underside of a toad (K found one hopping about!) and the "uncan reflect" of a newt, which is a defensive reflext in which they arch their backs, showing their red underside as a warning. (Newts are a type of salamander.)

Even more fun, good friends discovered this "secret entrance" to a lunch hideout. They had arrived late but proved to be our most favorite "find" of the day!

At the creek at Creekside Friday

A beautiful evening, great music, and rock throwing is always a special treat! :-)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Marine Mammal Center Again

Their cousin is "really into animals" and asked to go here: http://www.marinemammalcenter.org/ Her request is our command! Thanks to a couple of great volunteers, we had an informative visit and learned even more....

Of course, we had to visit the nearby whale bones, though no calculation of size this time.... (That had been a fun exercise with several bright girls, quick calculations using addition and multiplication.)
These racoons failed to get the notice that the trip was about MARINE mammals....

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Muir Woods with Cousins

We did a treasure hunt through the trees; peaceful, impressive, and fun, all at once.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


We went out together to ride bikes after Mass on Sunday. G decided to try K's bike and took off - her first time on a two-wheeler!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Domino Games

Some people get into lego; dominos is our current obsession. When looking at videos that show amazing domino toppling sequences, we found this and keep trying to duplicate it:

We've gotten close!  K took the first (unblurry) picture, right before we removed one of the "feet." The second is blurry because I took it, hurrying to capture the contraption before it collapsed. A work in progress!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Happy Birthday, Dear Daddy!

Two spice cakes, one Steeler's flag, and a surprise spaghetti-and-meatball dinner, presented by the girls. Hope he knows how much he is loved!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Summer Nature Exploration

We designated one day a week specifically for nature exploration (though certainly we haven't limited ourselves to one); sometimes friends join us and sometimes we explore on our own. These photos were taken on a day in which we did some fun, quiet, creative, beautiful exploration - wild plums and flowers, close-up examination of a bee (photos didn't do the object of our fascination justice), examination of tidal patterns, and lots more.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Musical Evening

We went out to hear some Big Band music and while K was engaged in a jumpy house, I took these pictures of G , who was finding other entertainment.

Book Club! Little House on the Prairie

So many things to do with this one! We created papooses, dressed up, made butter, and worked together to build our own log cabin. This last activity was my favorite because there was no method or end result to model. I had created logs out of gingerbread, then the kids got together and as a group tried different methods for creating a structure. Lots of experimentation about the roof! The end result was, well... more edible than livable, but the process was fun.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Ornithologist Walk

This time, the theme was forests and to really experience the birds, we focused first on their sounds, tried to identify them that way, then used our eyes to try to locate them. It was a bit like being a bird detective and a lot of fun.

Here is the list of ten bird songs we tried to learn before the hike.

AllAboutBirds.org has more sounds and our ornithologist guide also recommended: http://www.1000plus.com/BirdSong/ for more bird song mnemonics