Thursday, December 30, 2010

Images from Gualala

A lovely, rainy, peaceful cozy trip to Gualala. Great way to celebrate the days following Christmas Day together.

Thanks for letting us use the house, Terry and Mike!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

On the First Day of Christmas...

... Santa gave to me.... treats for the Ike-dog; stockings with some chocolate;
lots of other fun things, and the last book in the Frog Princess series!

The tie on the dog occurred for reasons unclear to watching adults; Daddy gets a new tie, so Ike gets to wear an old one? He wasn't too thrilled, but gave kisses to his stylist nonetheless.

Friday, December 24, 2010

WONDERFUL Christmas Eve: Gospel Re-enactment

The kids were honored to take responsibility for being on the altar with Father Pat and lighting the Christmas tree for him, to a loud "ooooo!" from the congregation. K was enthusiastic in her two roles and G loved being an angel, though she lost her focus and used her hands to sign, "I love you" at Abuela, Grandpa, and Daddy in the front pew.

Nature Day: High Tide

We altered our Nature Day location, from forests to the shore. Our location was a well-known and well-loved one, but the heavy rains resulted in a much-changed landscape, due to high tides that eliminated the beach. Fabulous, really! I love the drama of weather and nature and love that the girls experience it, too. We saw tons of birds: a buffelhead and a kingfisher among them.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Geology Class Part I

Thanks to EB, we all learned a lot in this first geology class. Here the kids are creating a model of the earth in chalk, showing the core, outer core, mantel, and crust. We also learned about the Mohs scale for mineral hardness; how have I lived this long without learning such cool stuff? Lots of hands-on activities and experiments, courtesy of the California Academy of Sciences materials and EB's wonderful facilitation.

Swingin' in a Tree

Fun, fun! This was on campus (wish we had a tree like it at home!)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Photos by K

She asked me to post these images from SF: details and landscapes, from land and water....

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Country Day: Winter Holidays

Our theme: Winter Holidays. We heard great presentations about the rotation of the earth around the sun, how Christmas is celebrated in Germany, the story of the Lady of Guadalupe (acted out), and K's idea: how Christmas is celebrated in places where it is summertime. We got great help from friends in New Zealand and Australia, who (among other things) supplied lyrics to "Aussie Jingle Bells" and "Twas the Night Before a Kiwi Christmas."

Letter to Santa

This was on the outside of a sealed letter I found for Santa. It says, "Don't tell Mommy about the cat." She wants one; I don't!

I can imagine what is inside, to have such an afterthought!

Bellringer Performance

We went to a free (thanks!) concert by the Golden Gate Boys Choir and Bellringers.

These photos are of the kids lined up to try the instruments during a break.
It was really wonderful and their conductor did an amazing job of explaining the work behind the performance, both the construction of the instruments, the musical composition of the pieces, and the work of the performers.

The girls and I took the ferry over, which is always fun, too. Cheaper than downtown parking. It was great to see some of the holiday decorations, including these giant red ornaments.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas Tree and Video Advent Reflection

Yep, an 11-footer! Waiting 'til the end of Advent has its advantages: we cut a deal because they need to "move the trees."

Lots of rain today, so the tree was too wet to put lights on. It is up and looking dramatically huge; due to be decorated tomorrow.

On the subject of waiting, this is a really lovely two minute video about the season of waiting, which has lovely religious meaning but - quite frankly - is even more pleasing from the perspective of this tired, ever-triaging mom. With the Christmas season only BEGINNING in six days, I have so much more time/sanity to approach the obligations of the season after school, grades, parties, and other events have been concluded. An excuse to embrace sanity - need I say more?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Weekend of Ballet

We went to the SF Ballet's Nutcracker with a group of friends; a near-perfect production. The three of us had different favorite parts, but mutually agreed that we loved every minute!

We also went to see a seven-year-old friend in a gorgeous production of "A Winter Tale." It was fun to see her on stage (and see the amazing stage prop work of her Mom and Dad) and would have been a fantastic production even had all the performers been strangers.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Nature Day: Visions in the Fog and Mist

Pride and Joy: "I'm African American!"

Other people seem more cognizant of racial differences than I care about. When asked, "are your kids mixed?" I always say, "no more so than anyone else, a little from their mom, a little from their dad." But I know what they mean and am aware that the distinction of being "mixed" is important for many (in both positive and negative contexts).

I always joke that we're both Catholic and both conservative, so we have all that matters in common! Still, we're not ignorant of societal influences and have both read numerous books and studies on related topics. Of those, we have both (individually) seen videos about the negative effects of subtle racism on very young children. Specifically, we recall sad and shocking video footage of children in a clinical setting being given a choice of dolls. Both White and Black children immediately and vehemently expressed a preference for the dolls with White features, associating them not only with preference but with qualities of "good" and "bad." With intervention, the Black children are shown at the end of one video with a different reaction, chanting, "Black is beautiful." (This is different from the video link below.)

The studies and videos are apt fodder for rich discussion, beneficial for the adult classroom, but hardly an ideal environment that any parent wishes upon their own children. After all, the intervention that we saw in training videos occurred in a deficit - recognizing a problem, a remedy is applied, arguably one that perpetuates the original problem (exclusivity of racial preference). In the context this is clearly better than the alternative, but still imperfect.

As parents, we hope for a better outcome for our own children, but are aware of our own fallibility. Who doesn't stumble as a parent; yet who wants to stumble in an area that so directly relates to both identity and self-esteem?

Yesterday, K and I were talking about Winter Holidays, in preparation for our monthly "Country Day" presentation/celebration. The book referenced "African Americans" and I said, in a matter-of-fact way, "that is what people whose ancestors come from Africa are called. People with brown skin, like Daddy." K looked at me with an expression of joyful discovery and said, "I'm African American!"

If I've ever done anything right, I reaped my rewards in her reaction to my affirmation, which was expressed in a tone of pride, joy, and soft, happy enthusiasm. She then added, holding up her arm, "look, my skin is dark too... well, kind of dark and kind of light, too, but like Daddy's!"

She then added, "but I am an American, because this is where I am from." Right again, brilliant and lovely daughter!

A smile, a hug... a delighted discovery of identity. Maybe we occasionally do some things right... (or so we continue to hope and pray!)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

New Microscope Fun

Cool image, huh? We got a new microscope - teeny tiny - for only $5 and we were off in search of things to look at. This small beetle-type bug was crawling around, so I stuck it temporarily in a plastic bag to take a closer look. The bumpy surface it is on is the weave of a cloth napkin.

It took three of us to get the photo... me to hold the microscope, Charles to position the phone camera, and K to push the button. Wish I had thought of the phone camera on Friday when we were amazed by the gorgeous detail of flowers, even seemingly simple ones!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Book Club: Georgia O'Keefe

We read a neat book about Georgia O'Keefe and then our wonderful friend Laura, who is herself an artist, helped the kids to see with O'Keefe-like eyes. Her gentle facilitation was like magic... the pictures that emerged were incredible, beyond anything most parents had ever seen from their kids before.

Some quotes from the book about her life that I particularly loved:

"I did things other people don't do. When my sisters wore sashes, I didn't. When my sisters wore stockings, I wore none."

"At school in New York, I painted one still life painting a day - every day. At school, I painted my teacher's ideas. But when school days were over, I went out into the wide world to discover my own ideas."

"God told me if I painted that mountain enough, He'd give it to me."

"I did things other people don't do. I climbed my ladder to the night sky to wait for the sun."