Monday, August 29, 2011

Not Back to School Part II

We planned our new grades today, going over various curriculum to find out what the state and others consider essential second grade/kindergarten learning. And then we got to work, knowing that classes begin this week and next, happily anticipating new opportunities for learning and fun (though I, at least, am already missing summer's more open schedule. Wish I could get another month of it!)

As much as I miss summer already, it was a special treat to watch my big girl work on her math with her Daddy-o. Interested and diligent, she worked with him for quite some time and together they expanded what I had presented. K brought her paper to me with numbers they'd worked out all over it, proudly displaying her work. Daddy's attention and K's pride were a joy, music for my heart.

Not Back to School

A wonderfully fun afternoon at a family "not back to school" beach celebration. Playful Daddy was a huge hit and the rangers had to kick us out at the end of the day. Fun, fun! Even when the fog came in; the kids were running so that they never noticed the chill and the mesmerizing beauty helped the grownups not to feel it either.


Creative Existential Angst

Rushing off to morning mass, I get the girls ready and then get dressed myself. K follows me into my room, asking questions:

What if we aren't even real?
What if this is just a dream?
What if we are just characters in someone else's story?

Then she starts narrating THIS currently evolving story, "The mother gets dressed. The younger daughter shines her flashlight at the wall, then gasps...."

A few minutes later, I'm in the other room, grabbing my purse. G follows me in, asking with concern, "Mommy, do YOU think that we are just stories?

I respond, completely unhelpfully, with some critical hermeneutic theory: we are real, made by God, but how we live our lives becomes our story, our narrative, our identity.

K seemingly can't help herself when she realizes that she is having an effect on her sister and so she continues her narrative, "... and then the younger sister asks her mother, am I real, or am I just in a story...." This is less helpful, even, than hermeneutics, but K is having too much fun stop, narrating even the subsequent bickering, finally concluding amidst my distracted entreaties to KNOCK IT OFF with "and then the little sister says, 'no YOU stop it, you stupid butthead!'"

Clearly (and for more reason than one!) it is time for church!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

All Things Beautiful

An "All Things Beautiful" four year old birthday party; G was so thrilled, that she was up at 5AM in anticipation. She got her hair done, she got her nails painted, and she got to eat all of her best friend's most favorite foods, served by older sibling waiters. For G, stuck in an anti-princess, anti-shopping, anti-girlie stereotypes family, this was so unusual as to be savored. K was happy being a waiter (no nails! no messing with hair!) but was especially happy when she got to try out a unicycle after her waiter duties had been properly dispatched.

Another memorable day with great friends. Happy 4th Bday!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Camping in the Redwoods

Being in the redwoods always brings back my absolute best memories of my own childhood - playing endlessly amongst giant Coast Redwoods, picking blackberries, huckleberries, and more, and just playing, playing, playing all day. It was wonderful to go to the redwoods with friends and recreate memories for our own girls, albiet in a slightly different forest (same riparian habitat, but gloriously close to home). Having Daddy and Big D along too made it a very special weekend.

Preparing for a treasure hunt. Banana slugs? Tanoak leaf? Huckleberry? Mammal track? Check, check, and double check!

Mini-microscopes were made for admiring spore clusters on the backs of ferns.
Our destination: Tiptoe Falls. No Yosemite falls, but lovely.
How many daughters can you stack to make a Redwood?

Jacki gives new meaning to the concept of an "Iron Chef." (Iron Chef Outdoors - that THAT would be a reality show!) She is an amazingly awesome cook, preparing gourmet meals for a hungry crowd. Blueberry banana pancakes, anyone?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Happy Fishies

The fish weren't the happy ones; the teachers were. Their smiling faces were immediately noticable; most adults just don't act that sincerely happy. It was great to be there and K learned a lot about the lifecycle of salmon. That said, the very best part of the day was joining friends at a neighborhood pool and playing, playing, playing. Yippee!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Music for the Eyes

The wonderful people whom I work with surprised G. with a birthday gift; a special box that she could decorate herself. She generously invited her sister to help, but proudly did much of the diligent work herself and was justifiably proud. And cute. And so grown up looking so fast! (Aaaaaa!)

Her sister was excited, too! She rushed into the house yelling, "Mommy, you've got to see the masterpiece we made! It looks as good as Mozart sounds!"

A Language Arts Dance

A fun review - when you hear a verb in the poem, do the action it describes. Spin! Jump! Glide! Dance! And why not....

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Annual Family Camping Reunion

Well, almost annual. And certainly fun! Of my grandparent's six children, five had families represented, many en masse (yeah Keefes and Hollands!) Way too busy to take too many photos (plus others likely have much better ones), but here are a few highlights from the fun our girls had - swimming, splashing in the waves, playing baseball, riding bikes and scooters, and (mostly) enjoying terrific cousins and other relatives for a perfect weekend.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Birthday Golf and Helicopters

We found a great deal at a local mini golf course; fun, fun for the whole family! Their styles were so incredibly different - K is measured and careful, thinking of the rules. G swept the ball down the course, diligent and yet uncaring about the number of strokes. The final hole had a special challenge and K and I tried it over and over (and over) again - unsuccessfully in the end, but we had fun.

Afterward, we found a helicopter in front of an airplane museum and that was an unexpected draw - I thought we'd never leave as they "refueled," using improbable and yet innovative techniques.

The next-to final picture is by K of a special four-year old's birthday moment.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Happy Birthday!!

Special celebrations for a wonderful kid. First, a pizza-and-cake party with some favorite cousins. The next day, I told her that we were setting up for a "boring adult tea party;" after helping me set up with the fancy glasses and china, she was SO suprised when her special friend and siblings showed up instead. She's such a great kid - funny, smart, always guesses the punch line in jokes, always first with a hug, independent, persistent, focused, a lover of all things traditionally "girly," an "unmaker" who will break anything in her path just to see how it works, opinionated, cuddly, awesome... I loved surprising her, knowing that she's been looking forward to her birthday for SO long and loves every minute of the celebrations.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Riverside Camping

When our friend Cynthia invited us to go camping with her, she described the campground and activities on the river, saying that our plan would be to "float, walk, snack, repeat." Sign us up! And that's exactly what it was - a campground in the middle of the central valley - hot, flat, and dry until we reached our riverside oasis - situated at the bend in a river so that we could get in the water at one end of the campground and float around the campground to the other side.

The water was cold and fast, but the kids all had life jackets and we were careful. Our only moments of chaos involved realizing that our turn in spot was upon us and we weren't close enough to the edge to turn in easily. I had some unplanned (and clothed) quick plunges to make sure we didn't end up... (um, not sure, somewhere too far) but it was super fun. The girls enjoyed the water and, apparently, the dirt, as G got this dirty intentionally rubbing her face with it. Thank you, Cynthia!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

More Backpacking Photos

The girls' first backpacking trip is too momentous an occasion not to post lots of photos. Love this first one - my mom is in the background with Sherpani (the princess dog). In the second photo, K is expressing her enthusiasm for finding snow on the trail! We found lots of it and the girls spent a lot of time on our second day out "skiing."

These exoskeletons were EVERYWHERE, twigs, water plants, trees.... interesting. Couldn't resist playing with the microscope and a telephone camera lense to get a close up - check out the jaw line and tiny teeth.

My mom and her dog relaxing while the girls prepare their magic show from the "stage" above. Except for the mosquitos, it was an absolutely ideal site.

Poor Ike wasn't feeling well? Altitude? Perhaps. He sought shade in the folds of the tent fly and then sought sympathy from his everloving girl. Sweet (and he's all recovered, now).

Monday, August 1, 2011

First Backpacking Trip

Abuela (my mom) came with us, adding to our list of wonderful and memorable adventures shared together. Lots of mosquitoes, but otherwise it was perfect - gorgeous, fun, and with really ideal weather. We hiked about two and a half miles in, then enjoyed complete solitude all night long next to a lake that was so still that it reflected the stars.

The next morning, we played - hiked, swam, watched a mountain chickadee family enter and exit a dead tree near our tents, used microscopes to examine the multitude of cricket (?) exoskeletons all around, found a dead Northern Rubber Boa (ugly snake) and a live Mountain Garter Snake (pretty and teeny), attempted to catch fish (an ingenuous if ultimately unsuccessful attempt to snare them alive for pets with pots and bits of bread), "skiied" on patches of remaining snow, and more. Mom and I were even treated to a magic show, very silly joke telling session, and a variety of lovely songs, enthusiastically sung, from "The Sound of Music."

The girls were tough and fun and I felt like all my years of being super-happy just to be in the mountains was topped by the joy of doing it with my mom AND these lovely, fun, daughters!

Taking off, almost clean. That didn't last! (I had to throw their pants away - so stained with sap that two washings didn't make a dent in the black marks!)
Alpine glow reflection in the lake. We got there just in time for sunset!
Sherpani snuck in our tent to snuggle with the girls.
Happy backpackers. G fashioned a sherpani-like skirt out of my bandana. They were both carrying packs, though hard to see with this angle.
Headlamp fashion on a bear cannister.