Friday, January 28, 2011

SF Ballet Dress Rehearsal: Giselle

As G would say, "oh my, oh my, oh dinosaurs!" What a treat - generous friends invited us to join them in box seats at the SF Ballet's dress rehearsal of Giselle. It was pure magic and so special to get this behind-the-scenes chance to see such beauty and grace in action. We could at times hear the conductor's voice (when does that happen normally?) and at one point, a dancer came out WITHOUT his costume, again reminding us that this was a very special work in progress. These very slight "imperfections" made the experience more real, helped us to appreciate what goes into a production of this caliber, and we had a fabulous time.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Country Day January: USA!

Every family/child focused on something different. K started with some history - Lewis and Clark and Sacagawea, about whom we had recently become completely fascinated. Did you know that the historical record has contradictory evidence, making it unclear whether she lived for 25 years or 100?

Their journey was truly amazing and the expedition journals chronicle their fascination both with that which has become mundane to us (groundhogs) and that which we will never see (valleys teeming with thousands of wild animals).

This segued to the national park system, which preserves some element of the wildness of what they saw on that journey. K of course focused on Yosemite, including a bit about the Ahwahneechi (Miwok tribe who lived there), their stories, and the words that they used to describe landmarks. She also talked about our own connections to Yosemite and G jumped to her feet (and out of her role to photograph the presentation) to help K demonstrate how they together scared off a bear on our last visit.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Dance Class

I love watching her have fun dancing! Tap, then Jazz Ballet. She doesn't take her leotard and tights off for hours afterward.
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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Academy of Science Rainforest Training

I went to Teacher Training so that I can check out the rainforest teaching kit. The training was fun, especially since I had a friend with me! The questions posed by the others there... well, that revealed a startling paradigm, but my thoughts about that will have to be a long post for another time. I did get a chance to photograph some marvelous butterflies and birds. The really bright colored bird is a Paradise Taninger; doesn't it just look like something out of Narnia?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Nature Observations, Learning, and Observation

Someone passed along this quote from Alexander Graham Bell's daughter:

"My father was a creature of the woods and the water and the darkness."

Interesting, especially considering the content of
the Jean-Claude Boisset presentation last night at NDNU's Distinguished Speaker Series. He spoke of the time he spent with nature, his adolescent desire for more worldly pursuits, and his grandmother's admonition that he needed to be better at observing nature. According to his speech, her advice went "40,000 miles over [his] head at the time," but settled close enough that it informed his approach to both the science and the business of wine making.

Another engineer/inventor, who got his inspiration for optical fibers also from studying the eyes of animals, said of himself,

I wasn't an exceptional student at school, and I think this actually helped me to become more creative. I couldn't rely on ‘textbook' approaches, so was poised (or forced) to invent my own ways of doing things. ...I think that my creativity has benefited hugely from working in diverse fields, and from the cross-fertilisation that enables. It seems that the more different pictures you have of this world, the better. For example, I was awarded the Marconi Prize in 2001 for my insights about optical fibres for telecommunication. Surprisingly, this work was inspired not from research in engineering physics, but from my investigations of animal eyes!"

The same inventor is now investigating autistic savants because he believes that anyone is capable of achieving mental feats, if only our "mindsets" would get out of the way... Here is an interesting article by him on this.

"It all comes down to using common sense"

This is what G, who is three, mumbled in her sleep the other night. The seeming complexity of the concept woke me fully and I jumped out of bed and wrote it down, giggling. (The night before she sang several verses of an unidentified song in the middle of the night, from a sound sleep, and I regretted not keeping a more specific record of that silly, joyous event.)

In the morning, I told Charles about it. Full of pride, he said, "that's because K asked yesterday what the Founding Fathers were I told them all about Thomas Paine." K, overhearing this, said, "no it's not... that's from Danger Rangers! (A - quite good - safety video series).


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Gabriana's Turn to Profile her Photography

All of her favorite Rock and Roller!

Oh, there are lots more... both photographer and her broom-guitarist subject went nuts together. This is just a small sample of all that I found on my camera! :-)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Book Club January - Peter Pan!

It was K's idea to have a treasure hunt, G's to dress up. Lots of pirates and fairies showed up, as well as a lovely, nightgown-clad Wendy.

We started with unidentified packets of clues, which the kids hid in various rooms, then created treasure maps to show where they were. Great hiding places and awesome maps! Once the clues were rediscovered, they were unwrapped, revealing puzzle pieces, a map of the world, which they worked in teams to put together. Surprise! More clues were written on the back of some of the puzzle pieces; together, they instructed a search for more clues, hidden in pens, in the living room. Once found, each pen revealed a slip of paper hidden inside with a different secret code on each. They worked together to decode each clue, which resulted in a riddle/poem (using their knowledge of poetry to put the lines in order), then scrambled up the stairs to find the treasure chest "up the stairs, behind a door, look under green, then blue to score!" Fun, fun!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Body Worlds Vital

Took the kids to see this exhibit today. It was fascinating! The video shows how the designer took actual human bodies and put them on display in a way never quite seen before. The detail was amazing and what it revealed about the body was complimented by the IMAX film we saw afterward; a detailed look inside the human body with vivid, occasionally gross, but mostly fascinating footage.

There was a strong health-orientation to the presentation, with graphic information/warnings about obesity, diabetes, and Alzheimers. It was also interesting to see what different families around the world ate in a given week. (We decided we'd rather live with the Indian family, based on the vegetarian diet shown.)

We had some critiques in terms of the social message being sent. (All the models were male, the juxtaposition of the presentations implied that Alzheimers occurs when you fail to exercise your brain adequately, and why exactly did the American family shown have to be a Black family with terrible eating habits?) but overall it was informative and interesting.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Marin's First Youth Christmas Bird Count

We joined hearty friends on a VERY COLD Saturday to participate in this very neat event; working with ornithologists and/or naturalists to identify and count various birds. In about two hours, we counted 88, including a variety of types, common, rare, and some that were very beautiful. Can't wait to make this an annual tradition....

Sunday, January 2, 2011


G: "Mommy, why are you wearing a skirt?"

Me (dressing for church): "Because I want to be like you."

G, very serious and attentive: "Do you really want to be like me?"

Me: "Yes, I do."

G: "Why?"

Me: "Because you are lovely and sweet, loving and smart, strong and beautiful."

G, smiling: "That's nice!"