Tuesday, May 31, 2011

First Dance Recital


With her class of cuties after their two dances (sixth from the left).

Unfortunately, the motion and lighting in the class were insufficient for great photos, but even the blurry ones are cute and capture her enthusiasm, joy, beauty, and the fun that she was clearly having. Her goal was to remember to pirouette to the right, as she got confused in class, and she did each just right. After four out of five, she'd look at me for confirmation that she'd done it right. So sweet and cute - awesome, fun kid!

It was a busy day, with K's drama performances earlier in the day. As soon as we were done with the dance recital, the three of us took off to Yosemite, setting up camp at midnight, amongst roaming bears (maybe?) in the pitch darkness of a moonless night. I could only do it because they were both so patient, silent, and helpful as we almost-soundlessly put up the tent and stashed the food and other smellies in the bear locker.

Meet Chick Number Three and Monkey Number Two

Last day of drama class; in addition to hearing fun songs sung in rounds, we saw performances of "The Little Red Hen" and "Five Little Monkeys." Good job, class and teachers!

Vale Magistra and Disculpi

Playing "Magistra Says" on the last day of Latin for this term. Fun class, lots learned!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Practicing Mandarin

We have no idea how to spell words in Mandarin, but G figured out how to write what in Mandarin is a greeting, so we practiced a few times, in preparation for Country Day: China, which is upcoming....

Happy Memorial Day

Marching with the Girl Scouts in our local Memorial Day parade. Honoring and appreciating those who lost their lives so that we could enjoy freedom!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Snakes and Lizards Exhibit

Love this picture; both girls got such a thrill out of watching an exhibit about water and life, which was designed, mini Bellagio-like, to a design of water spurts and music.
They also had fun with the lizards, matching the tongues/eating habits with the face.
This was totally fun - at an exhibit that allowed the viewer to zoom in on lizards in a display, we discovered that it could also be used to watch the people who were observing the display up close. The photo above has both girls at the controls, but the photo below shows G maneuvering (her head in the lower part of the photo) so that K seemingly becomes a grinning part of the exhibit.

We don't often have days with no specific classes, activities, or plans, so it was a joy to spend leisurely time together, playing and learning.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Butterfly Catcher

Since she was very young, she's had an extraordinary ability to catch and release butterflies. Today was no exception, though seeing it is always amazing. Now she's teaching her sister to do the same, which is very cool to see.

A marvelous day with G's godmother Kathleen. We love you!!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Narnia and Judgment Day

We just finished the seventh book in the series. Oh my. I think someone told me that it was about the end of the world, Judgment Day, and the like, but I somehow I didn't quite REALIZE. (Our reading was well timed with the recent predictions of the end of the world, though, huh?) Oh, the images of going into battle knowing that you WILL die! The concept of judgment, then of the world's end! As portrayed in the book, it is so profoundly beautiful, disturbing, lovely, hopeful, sad, joyful.

Makes me want to read Plato. What am I missing?

I think that reading all seven books will end up as an annual family tradition - so many beautiful and loving images, so much relevant depth! Despite launching the reader into facing a reality (death) that I tend to prefer to not think about, the images conveyed are of beauty, purpose, care, and everlasting life in, with, and of love.

What else matters?

Oh, one great quote, from "Queen Lucy," "'In our world too a stable once had something inside it that was bigger than our whole world.' It was the first time she had spoken, and from the thrill in her voice Tirian now knew why... she had been too happy to speak.'"

Country Day May - Germany

K did her presentation on the Berlin airlift of 1948-49; specifically, on an American pilot who dropped candy to the children of West Berlin. Who wouldn't love that! Recording the presentations in photos was left to G, who seemed not to notice that the computer assistant's head was blocking that of the presenter in most photos. Oh well!

We also heard great presentations about German castles, the medieval composer (and Saint) Hildegard,zeppelins, German folk dance, "Mad" King Ludwig II and his castles, the Bismarck, a WWI Soldier's story, making German food (soup and pretzels, two different presentations) and German wedding traditions (interactive, fun!)

As always, even (especially?) the adults learned a lot - at least, I did! One of the things that is most charming about the day is the courtesy and genuine attention that the kids show to each other, even over more than two hours of presentations. Makes me so appreciative of our friends and our shared experiences. And the great food that is part of the day makes it rich, too!

Why Would Anyone Be Crazy Enough to Homeschool?

This is a great article, with lovely photos. The author articulates so many of the good reasons to choose this "craziness," though individual elements are quite different, of course:
  • We have fewer kids with a more abbreviated difference in learning levels. (Her descriptions give me a hopeful future vision, though!)
  • We don't rise at 5:30 to "help the Farmer," though that does sound rich and meaningful and therefore enviable, doesn't it? Nope, at 5:30, I'm exercising, cleaning, planning, or working. More of the latter and less of the first, unfortunately.
  • We spend more time outside of the house - not just physically, but engaged in classes, field trips, and coordinated group activities. We are lucky to have lots of families who educate with us who plan really awesome classes and activities; plus, living in the middle of so much (natural beauty, museums, universities, etc.) creates opportunities that are hard to pass up.
  • Not working outside the home gives them so much time together. Oh, I do envy that (though I am blessed to know with certainty that my paid work also reflects God's call)! Hopefully, by soon eliminating my onerous commute, we can better emulate the cozy peace that this article exudes.
Love it! The underlying reasons for the choices her family makes resonate and I appreciate both her educational background and the cited research. I certainly don't think that any specific educational background is necessary for teaching, but incorporating different voices into this reflection adds depth that I enjoy.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


I was asleep next to G last night, when she started crying and complaining. "Mommy, K is hurting me." I half woke as she did, with both of us noticing at the same time that K wasn't actually in the same room. "Where is K?" she asked. "She's asleep in the other room." Her response? "I want my sister...."

That's the way that they seem to be. Fighting and yet inseparable. Complaining and yet missing each other immediately upon separation. An exhausting amount of energy within their interactions, with love so tightly entwined amongst their bickering, fighting, teasing, whining, and arguing that the positive power of the connection can almost be forgotten.

I'm so glad that they have each other, and that we have both of them!

Nature Day

Monday, May 16, 2011

City Walk: Great Blue Heron nests!

San Francisco Nature Education offers naturalist-led walks right in the middle of the city! And a great ornithology walk it was, too. The Great Blue Herons were amazing. We'll be going back again and again; thanks Mom for telling us about it and Mom, Dad, and Sherpani for meeting us there!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Book Club - May!

"From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler." Oh, what a fun book! I remember reading it as a kid - elementary aged siblings run away from home, but do so with a plan for comfort and safety, sneaking into the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. A few days into their adventure, they happen onto an art mystery - a beautiful angel sculpture by an unknown artist. They learn that experts suspect that Michelangelo created it and they begin to investigate, eventually happening on the truth through persistence and persuasion.

To celebrate the book, we visited a local art museum and did a scavenger hunt for items from the book, as well as other museum-related activities. (One was finding places to hide and/or spend the night, as shown in the photo above!) As always, it was a rich experience of literary enjoyment, fun with friends, and ongoing learning.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day Hike

What a wonderful day! Breakfast in bed, mass, then a hike out of town, across a ridge, to the ocean. Both girls walked the entire way with me, seven miles of the challenging Dipsea trail. The view doesn't show up well in the photo, but from the view shown in the first photo we could see from the downtown buildings of Oakland AND San Francisco, across SF's southern neighborhoods, to Pacifica and then across the water to the Farralones (islands). Stunning, but even still that beauty held no comparison to the joy brought by the great company I had with me. I am so honored to be blessed with such wonderful daughters.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Resonating Graduation Quote

I had the honor of attending my first graduation at my school, celebrating the 45 new Bachelor of Science students in our program as well as other undergrad and graduate students. One of the speeches included this quote, which is often associated with (though not written by) Mother Theresa. I really love it, especially the end, with the reminder about where to ground ourselves - not in others' issues, impressions, expectations, or stories told, but in God, who is truth. Doing this isn't simple or easy, but is satisfying and right.

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and anyone else anyway.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Sugarloaf May

The kids did Odyssey of the Mind-like problem-solving challenges in teams. A big hit! Thanks, Lisa....

Odyssey of the Mind "is an international educational program that provides creative problem-solving opportunities for students from kindergarten through college. Team members apply their creativity to solve problems that range from building mechanical devices to presenting their own interpretation of literary classics."

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Cinco de Mayo Battle of Puebla Reenactment

What fun! A friend invited us to reenact the Battle of Puebla, in which the Mexicans take on the French, fighting for freedom and independence. Scenes took place in the Atlantic Ocean (pool), over hot cocoa, on drawing paper, and through chants expressing each opposing sentiment. The high point (if there was only one) was having the "Mexicans," (who evolved into pirates only because appropriate makeup was discovered) chased the "French" down the driveway and through the street, defeating her - I mean them! - in a dramatic dive on the grass. Later my girls said, "she really did fall right onto the grass!" Thrilling, fun, and a great way to learn history.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

"Words Have Wings"

(Title is a quote from Jorge Argueta.)

Thanks to our friend Christina, I have some great pictures from our Creative Writing workshop this weekend with El Salvadorian poet Jorge Argueta. He was wonderful, inspiring individual creation with his own experiences and approach to poetry all around us.

He has written lots of books; one is "Arroz con leche" (Rice Pudding) in which he presents a recipe for rice pudding as poetry. Irresistible... of course we made some before he arrived, so that the cinnamon aroma set the mood for the workshop. Reading the poem and making the pudding also captured the essence of his approach to poetry, seeing beauty in everything. Suddenly, we did, too!

We had nine great kids and felt blessed by the day, by the experience of working with Mr. Argueta, and to know so many great people.

Though the workshop was great, K was in a bad mood. No, I mean BAD! Maybe it was because I'd taught all morning and just rushed back in time for this, maybe she needed more sleep, maybe she didn't like interrupting play just begun to listen. Regardless, her poetry was nothing like that of the other kids. Writing about being a mango, she began with "go... crunch, crunch, crunch, squish. Delicious - me." But then got into a story - her preferred narrative outlet - about being picked up by a dog who confuses the mango for a ball. It was all about feelings of fear and disgusting (though apt) images of drool. Imagining that the dog's teeth cut her (as a mango/ball) she wrote, "I felt like my brain was ripped out. Blood dripped from my cut like sap from a tree."

On the one hand - ugh! On the other hand, we all feel frustrated and angry; maybe being able to express it helps resolve it. Though she may not have a future writing mainstream children's books, she might find her niche in the Horrible History or Lemony Snicket models. Reading that did challenge my New Year's Resolution to try to let her be who she is, but after reflection I am (uncomfortable, but) pretty certain that I did the right thing in not editing or censoring her gory contribution.

We had a wonderful long walk later that afternoon, just the two of us. From the house, we went through neighborhoods and forests to the top of a nearby hill. We were gone for nearly three hours, exploring and talking and being silent together. The bad mood was gone and replaced by a young naturalist, full of information and inquiries, joy and expressed love.

The contrast in just a few hours - drool, blood, and anger to simple and energized joy makes motherhood so... oh, I'm searching for words. So ALIVE. Feeling such authentic solicitude toward another, knowing that my well being is intrinsically tied to hers, is the essence of being alive, with all of the exhaustion and joy, sadness and passion that goes along with it.

My life since they are born is like... [to be completed when I sort out the many metaphors that come to mind.]