Sunday, February 27, 2011


We went to the Farallones Marine Sanctuary Association for a fab-fab-fabulous class on the life cycle of salmon. It included two naturalists for the three of us, video, discussion/talk, dissection, game, and art... all with the bay and the Golden Gate Bridge as a gorgeous backdrop. The girls were engaged and full of questions, which was a relief since often when they are the only kids they tune out, not wanting such exclusive adult attention. But Eugenia and Erica were great and as a result I learned a ton and was particularly intrigued to see fish gills dissected and the toothy tongue of the salmon, which was very much like something I'd only expect in a sci-fi film. Utterly fabulous, amazing, and cool....

Friday, February 25, 2011

Country Day, Mexico: Part 3 of 3

Amazing presentations on Aztec gods, ancient Olmec art, Frida Kahlo, the Oaxacan festival el Noche de los Rabanoa, geography of Mexico, Mayan numbers, Mayan calendar, tortilla making, Maya daily life, making Mexican cascarone, horses, aztec temples, drug cartels, and the Mexican flag. Wow!

We had read about a girl who visits Oaxaca during the Christmas festival, El Noche de los Rabanos, which is a radish carving festival. K described what she had learned and demonstrated her own carving skills, along with those she had shared with friends. Some of the demonstrations were formal, others were more interactive, most notably two who focused on Mayan Math. It was very fun to see the kids volunteer to solve multiplication problems using Mayan numbers, then rely on each other's expertise to write their answers using Mayan symbols!

In addition, we had a guest: Linda from the Museum of Craft and Folk Art. She did a presentation too, giving us some context for the craft activities, then led the kids in making "sellos" or stamp art in clay. Such a fun and rich day!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Nature Day Sparkles

"Sparkling" was the best way to describe a wet, sunny morning of exploring new leaf buds, exquisite trillium blossoms, and a long, beautiful, and eloquent winter wren's song. Another fabulous day when I felt enormously blessed, rich beyond measure. The banana slug was the final find; exciting enough that a group gathered around us as the girls each held the end of a stick it had been sitting on. I practiced my limited naturalist skills, prompting the girls to explain that slugs are hermaphroditic (male and female).

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Learning the 50 States and Caps

Cute and fun; singing has got to be the best way to remember nearly everything. We hadn't really started on the states and capitols yet, but have used singing for multiplication tables and Latin and it seems to work as well for the girls as School House Rock once did for me. Want to know the Preamble to the Constitution? I'm ready....

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Family Portrait

I walked into the living room and saw this set up - so organized! So I asked, "what is going on here?" The answer: "It is a family portrait." Of course! Every family should have several unicorns, skateboarders, shepherds, and of course Baby Jesus....
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Monday, February 21, 2011

President's Day Fun

Sometimes last minute plans are the best! Climbing our favorite tree ,playing with lace lichen, exploring forts, finding drowned rats (sorry, Cristina), and examining huge spiders. Fun, especially with friends who surprise with an unexpected invitation for which we eagerly rush out the door.


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Country Day: Mexico (Part 2 of 3)

Headsets are the way to go! A new discovery that keeps the girls focused on the exhibit items (at least until G asked me to hold her and promptly fell asleep!)

The exhibit was fascinating: the BBC clip below explains some of the history (more on YouTube), which is considered the "mother of all American civilizations." We were all most fascinated by the giant heads - the pottery, masks, and other smaller items were beautiful and intricate, but not nearly as memorable as the heads. Not quite Easter Island-like, but similar, and some of the stories of their discoveries reminded us of what we've read about the Terra Cotta Warriors of China.

We had hoped that a Diego Rivera mural tour would complete our weekend, but it was canceled at the last minute, perhaps due to the holiday. The picture below is the nearest we got to him this weekend.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Snow here!

If you are from the Mid-West or East Coast, snow is no big deal. If you are a fourth/fifth generation San Franciscan (or "Bay Areans") as the girls and I are, then it is way more exciting and special. Looking at these photos, even K, who was when they were taken, thought that they were from Bangladesh or other exotic locale. We happened to experience it because G and I saw snow on the mountain above us as we were leaving the library. I called Charles and K and told them I was coming to get them; we then zoomed up the hill, 'till we reached the closed end of the road. From there the girls and I determinedly walked up the road about a mile and a half to where some was on the ground. Others were going further with snow boards, but we were deterred from further exploration by the setting sun and dropping temperatures.)

Unforgettable! I remember snow in San Francisco in 1976; a truly unique experience for me. I hope/wonder if the girls will have similar recollection so many years from now. From the looks on their faces, I suspect that they may.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Shakespeare and Identity

K started a Shakespeare class at the beginning of the month. When she received this handout, she wanted to color it in. The skin color was important to her and as she searched for the right color of brown, Charles and I smiled at each other. After our last post celebrating racial identity ("I'm African American!") one friend questioned why we would want our children to take pride in being African American "instead of [simultaneously] celebrating their European heritage." To this we have a practical and a personal answer.

The practical answer, the one the President would give, is that she is African American because that is the way that others perceive her. For better or worse, she (and he) have to embrace it or their identity will conflict with how others see them, which would be problematic because our identities are inherently part of our relationships with others. For a long time - and perhaps continuing for some people - any drop of Black blood condemned you to a lesser status in America and beyond. To turn that around and happily point to both identities when in the case of a major success (i.e. winning the presidency) is to short-change the legitimate desire of Black people to celebrate a successful role model.

That said, the President's reasons are currently irrelevant to K's pride; she simply doesn't have the experience to see all of that. She does understand the facts: that African Americans are people whose ancestors come from Africa, which some of hers do. She doesn't see it as being exclusive of also being descended from Swiss, German, Irish, Austrian, or Native American people. She knows that too and to state it would likely seem odd to her since it is so obvious. For me to have modified her pride by pointing out dual racial identity when she made her proud proclamation would have undermined the positive elements of self-identity that everyone needs - and which arguably are especially important for those navigating still-too-present negative racial attitudes.

Similarly, when she gave Shakespeare an identity that she associates with a positive male role model (Dad), being historically accurate was not nearly as important as celebrating her internalized assumptions. She loves Shakespeare's works and knows that they are brilliant; ergo, being a man, he must be identified similarly with the main male role model in her life. For her future identity (and her sister's, of course), I don't care what terms they choose, as long as the choice is made with love and pride.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

Not bad for a team of Valentine makers led my a Mom (me) who is high on love but low on craft/art skills!

Hope that wherever you are, whatever you are doing, you have a day that is full of love (even in Bangladesh!)

Love from us

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Country Day: Mexico (Part I of 3)


This month, we're studying Mexico, which means reading everything we can get our hands on, deciding on some element of it to present to/with our friends, then celebrating together with food, crafts, and shared knowledge. Part I was visiting the Mexican Museum, a small (teeny) exhibit with a few very beautiful and interesting pieces. Next stop: the Olmec Exhibit....
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Three and a Half


A year is a long time when you are three and being "a half" is a big deal. We celebrated with half a cake and three and a half candles. Her smile said it all....

Friday, February 11, 2011

Book Club: Winter Holiday


Winter Holiday, from the Swallows and Amazons series, might be one of the most perfect books ever. Three families of kids and their winter outdoor adventures, pretending that their winter in England's Lake District is an arctic adventure, full of courage, drama, miscommunication, and celebration. We had fun with it too, doing art that represented winter reflection scenes on a lake, drawing the night sky, organizing an explorer's larder, and making notebooks for scientific observations (like the kids in the book). Fun, fun.
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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

SF Ballet Community Matinee

A wonderful experience, seeing excerpts performed from Giselle, the Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude, Symphony in C, and more, as well as getting behind-the-scenes glimpses. We went with a great group of friends and it was fun to share the excitement.
And a sample of what we were so privileged to see:

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Ewww... gross!

A bloated tick, pulled live off of Ike's leg, viewed through our nifty microscope. So totally gross and yet cool, too.
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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Macbeth: An Especially Dramatic Rendition

The video quality is imperfect (and the Super Bowl preshow playing in the background doesn't help) but her language is right on:

"Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow
Creeps at this petty pace from day to day,
to the last syllable of recorded time.
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death.
Out out, brief candle!
Life is but a walking shadow,
a poor player who struts and frets his way upon the stage,
and then is heard no more.
It is a tale told by an idiot,
full of sound and fury,
signifying nothing

Friday, February 4, 2011

Sugarloaf Club: February

A fun afternoon playing and sewing-scented sachets; thanks A,C, and D! Glad that you are back.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Ano Nuevo: Elephant Sea Lions and Pups

What a day! The weather couldn't have been better and the animals... well, it was like being on safari, but not terribly far from here. We had a ranger-led tour over about three miles to see humongous males, mating couples, and young pups. All barking, fighting, sleeping, playing, swimming... it was phenomenal and a lot of fun to spend the day with friends in such an exciting environment, too.