Friday, April 29, 2011

Animal Adaptations class

A very cool class involving contact with insects, reptiles, and amphibians. I worked with the Australian tree frog station, but K hovered near the snakes, falling in love with a baby corn snake called "Firecracker."

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ELIZABETH! Wish we could have celebrated with you, but glad that you had fun! Love, us

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Thinkering Presentations

We've been "Thinkering" since September; a day long series of classes in a cute cottage in a gorgeous park. This was the last day for the school year and to celebrate, the kids recited Shakespeare and showed off some of their art. K was assigned but one line (solo) and one line (group), which surprisingly irked her (she usually likes to stay below the radar) and so she requested an opportunity to do a longer solo monologue. She nailed it, subtle emotion and all. I love this kid!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

To Believe is More Than to Understand

Easter was fun, with the above quote being one highlight of the Easter morning homily. We also had a treasure hunt for the girls and our visiting Australian friends, yellow "Alelujia" eggs amongst the other hidden ones, and baskets with a few treats. Dinner afterward at my parents' house was chaotic (22 people) but fun and I appreciated several good conversations with old friends.

Someday, I'll try the vigil mass again - I think of my experience with it every Easter as the very best Easter I ever had: a committed Lent, followed by a three-hour Good Friday church vigil, a complete fast, and a six hour Easter eve service with no less than 12 readings. Charles was baptized, recieved into the Church, and confirmed; we celebrated with friends for hours afterward at a party that began at about 1AM; when Easter morning soon came I think I'd only slept for two hours. Despite the fuzzy state of consciousness (or because of it), I felt especially joyous all day.

St. Dominics' then-pastor Father Roberto had given a memorable homily that I think of every Easter, describing a town of believers in a Communist country, assembled to hear all of the logical reasons why belief is a hoax. After listening for hours to dismaying information, the villagers were given a chance to respond. They were silent, apparently stunned. "Victory," thought the coercive unbelievers. Then one man in the back slowly raised his hand. Walking slowly to the front of the crowd, he looked out with tears in his eyes, paused, then said in a voice so strong that it surprised all who were there, "JESUS CHRIST IS RISEN TODAY!" And the crowd responded, as one, "HE IS RISEN INDEED."

The joyful song we sang that day, after that homily, rises within me every Easter morning, "Jesus Christ is Risen Today! Alelujia!"

This bunny cake is a Madden family tradition - well, really a Milar-now Milar-Madden-Keefe-Angelo-Holland tradition. Did it start with my grandmother or great-grandmother? Mom?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

SF Tour Day Two

A walk on the Golden Gate bridge, hiking the headlands, touring Fort Point (and its jail cells), a trip to a model shop, touring the Randall museum's model train, checking out cool birds upstairs at the Randall, trip down Lombard, Crissy Field, a hike up some of SF's residential stairs (twice, to confirm the number ascended), and a stop at the world's best burritos in the Mission. The company made it all especially fun and memorable!

The Play's the Thing

A very unusual character set - this was clearly WAY off Broadway - but the cast was enthusiastic, imaginative, and worked well combining very different visions into giggles and fun.

Touring San Francisco

Our lovely Aussie friends came back from their tour of California and so we took them on the "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles" tour of SF. Ferry to the Ferry Building, tour of Justin Herman Plaza fountain, trip up two glass elevators (Hyatt on Embarcadero and, later, the St. Francis), historic streetcar to Pier 39, walk through Fisherman's Wharf to the cable car, cable car through Chinatown to Union Square, underground MUNI back to the Ferry Building. Views, history, tourist sites, wildlife (sea lions), architecture, and more. Exhausting, but super-fun, as pictures will attest!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

First Opera: La Boheme

We got to go to the San Jose Opera's dress rehearsal (free!); what a gift! Nearly three hours long and, though G got a bit fidgety, K did not - she was mesmerized with enthusiasm. Both afterward seemed to find it most memorable that "Mommy cried." Heck, I knew she'd die, but that everyone in the room knew it except he who most loved her... that was the hook that drove my unexpected tears.

Funny, 'cause I remember MY Mom crying at Pinoccio, the first movie I ever saw in a theater. A long time ago and Mom's tears are virtually my only impression of the movie.

The San Jose Opera House is incredibly lovely; the pictures here are from gorgeous details of the architecture, even "just" from the outside.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Happy Palm Sunday!

We did the Stations of the Cross this morning in our Religious Education classes, combining the first and fourth grades. Our walk/prayer had many "technical" errors (copying problems, pronunciation and enunciation, then the practicing choir got too loud for us to continue) so we relied on the grace of the Holy Spirit to communicate the spirit of the week. The kids were patient and good, K did a great job reading the name of each Station, and Charles adjusted plans as needed to best reach the kids. At the end, we made the point that it may have seemed long and even perhaps hard to understand, but how much longer and more difficult it must have seemed to Christ!

Jonathan, who is our religious education director, posted this "G" version of "The Passion of the Christ" trailer on his blog, Echoing Hope. "G" it may be, but it still made we weep. A good start to Holy Week.

Yippee! The last picture remained overnight. So....

Still hesitantly testing... A hike with Abuela on a certain six-year-olds birthday weekend!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Testing Again

All of my latest posts have disappearing photos, so this is another test, several weeks after the problem began....

(K posing right after The Great Cousin Birthday Surprise. YES! Great cousin, great birthday, and super-great surprise! She appeared shocked and then later said, "I thought I was dreaming!" Mom, Dad, and Aunta Monica were all appropriately gratified.)

Sharks on a Saturday Morning

Another great class at the Farralones Marine Sanctuary Association. Charles took the girls and when I caught up to them after class, all three were buzzing with information about what they did and learned. They created a model of the digestive system, watched a video, and more. ("Mommy, they told us that sharks don't have bones, but we already knew that!" Hmph. I didn't!)

Friday, April 15, 2011

Country Day - El Salvador!

We celebrated El Salvador with poet and author Jorge Argueta, who has won the Americas Award for Latin American literature and an award for multicultural literature for juveniles, as well as being a SF Poet Laureate. We enjoyed wonderful food and heard presentations about Argueta's poem, "Water," how to make atol, the volcanoes of El Salvador (K was specific to one particular volcano, "the Lighthouse"), endangered animals, Puente Impossible, a personal poem about identity and El Salvador, population comparisons of different Central American countries, and the geography of El Salvador. Great day, great food, great kids!

Thursday, April 14, 2011


The girls and their Aussie friends went with other friends to the Chabot Space and Science Center; they came back full of facts and enthusiasm. That night, we saw the results of both when the four put on an eight-part play in which they traveled to each planet in succession, with our nine year old friend taking on unique costumes to represent the mood of each location visited. The other girls were no less unique, using cowgirl hats as helmets, play swords for breathing apparatus, and aprons as... well, she left it up to our imagination. Coordinated efforts and incredible imagination resulted in a unique, memorable, and funny show.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


A wonderful camping trip with local and Aussie friends. Smiles all around - hiking, "riding" the camp chair on a skateboard, checking out a racoon skeleton, walking across massive fallen trees, and more.