Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wild Day - A Spectacular One!

Bobcats, newts, snakes, snails, salamanders, and bees... oh my! Lots of mud, too. We were supposed to join a ranger walk, but the walk was cancelled, unbeknownst to us, for rain. We experienced not a drop, however, and instead had a spectacular day of fun and discovery.

Kissing a snail. I wouldn't do it, but didn't stop the kids....

Kissing a newt, too! Blech....

Found a snake, too. Undoubtedly, someone kissed it, too (not me!)

A bee hive! No kissing here, but the kids got close enough (and quiet enough) to hear the buzzing of the bees at work. Not just individual bees, but the low hum of the hive. Special music! And then... a bobcat! On a parallel trail and getting progressively closer, this was absolute magic to see one so close up.

Finally, a shot while walking back to the car. Looks like the opening scene from "The Andy Griffith show," but with two kids and no fishin' pole. What a day!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Costa Rica

From Swiss cooking to Costa Rican butterflies overnight. We went to an "art class" that focused on the work of Costa Rican artist Francisco Amighetti. "Madame Peindre" provided information about Costa Rican butterflies and also discussed Amighetti's work in murals, oils, water colors, and xylographs. Much fun was had, much was learned, and we were filled with appreciation for both.

Examining reproductions of Amighetti's work.

Creating their own.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Swiss Cooking

I got to sit in on the cooking class this time. The kids watched a video clip about mono agriculture and then made Swiss raclete. The vegetables were delicious and it was fun to see the kids at work, very capable and engaged.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Lenten Centerpiece

Inspired by a Lenten Preparation Celebration for the whole family at Religious Ed this weekend, this is our centerpiece until Easter. The kids also made calendars that they will complete at the end of each day to remind them of three Lenten themes - fast, pray, and give. We have some good intentions and will see how these evolve through time and experience....

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Touring the Old Mint

Touring the Old Mint, which was built in the 1870s and at one time bore the scars of the Great Fire of 1906. The architecture was amazing; I've always wanted to see the inside of this building, but it is usually closed to the public.

On left, the girls inside a vault. On right, detail of one vault lock.

These used to be gas lamps and were replaced long ago with electric ones that simulated the look of the gas originals.

There is only one building in San Francisco with thicker brick walls (Ft. Point, built earlier yet). On right, the only minting machine left - this was a gold crusher (fake gold nuggets now, but originally the building was full floor to ceiling with gold bars and silver dollars).

On the left, my family locked in a vault! On the right, detail of a gorgeous room, once the central room where miners brought their gold nuggets to exchange for coins. Armed guards walked the balcony above while the exchanges were made below.

New Pet

Country Day - Switzerland

First, the food. Cabbage casserole (mine) and fondue had no chance against a chocolate fountain. Wish I could have caught on film each child's eyes as they saw it flowing!

K did her presentation on St. Bernard dogs. She did a great job, but got irritated when some of the kids in the audience (driven by enthusiasm, not meanness) started chirping, "I knew that" after each statement she made. She loves dogs, but her favorite (see her look at right below) was a presentation about a Swiss company that makes James Bond-like auto creations, including a car that runs underwater. We also heard about how chocolate is made (and what the Swiss contributed to that process), Swiss banking, other Swiss dogs, how the alps were formed, how fondue is made and its history, Swiss trains, yodeling (history and demonstration), and Swiss army knives.

Memories: These are a few (of many) of my favorite images of Switzerland. On the left, the Lauterbrunnen Valley; on the right, a view toward Mt. Blanc from the Swiss border.

Looking at all of these photos again brings back such wonderful memories - my first trip out of the U.S. with a tour group called Exodus from London. Those two weeks were such fun and somehow - improbably! - gave me the confidence the following year to quit my job and travel alone to all seven continents for a year. I focused on the mountains, spending weeks exploring as opposed to days in cities. Met incredible friends. Fueled all sorts of imagination for future adventures. On one two-week trek I did, a friend and I used Kev Reynold's guide for "the Haute Route," which goes from Chamonix (in France) to Zermatt (in Switzerland). His words to describe one final view have always stuck with me, epitomizing the wonder of Swiss mountain beauty but also reflecting the awe I feel in other mountain ranges: "No matter how many mountain ranges I'd visited in the past, no matter how many views had won my heart, what was spread before me, before us, was a priceless gem of perfection, an unsurpassed, unparalleled vision of glory." "Traveling" through studies for Country Day is always fun and ignites dreams about future possibilities.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Mardi Gras

Nice to know moms more organized than I; last week, nearly everyone brought Valentines to Julius Caesar practice except me (I totally forgot it was V-day) and this week, it never even occurred to me to get treats for Mardi Gras. The kids have loved their beads/masks/crowns though, so many, many thanks!

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Queen of Kale

She's too young for K's cooking class, so we are doing our own. I call her "the Queen of Kale" because she likes it so much, however it is cooked. Don't know how that happened, but I hope it lasts!

The picture on the right is the same gorgeous sleepyhead, so peaceful after a rocky night. She is so lovely and awesome; I adore her.

A few days ago, sounding out new words, we used them in sentences. She said, "M-E-T... 'met!'" Then she added, "like 'ill met by moonlight, proud Titania," a quote from a Midsummer Night's Dream. Yes indeed.

By moonlight or daylight, she may be the toughest person I've ever met (and I know a few), stubborn, determined, opinionated, graceful, caring, funny, loving.... Did I mention stubborn? But I repeat it with gratitude, knowing that stubbornness and persistence are closely linked attributes and the latter bodes well for success in many of life's endeavors.

She's also deeply caring and observant. A few weeks ago, we had a rocky period with her sister, who was concerned with something going on in one of her classes. I hadn't discussed it around G, nor had she been part of conversations about it. Still, I was talking to our friend Jacki, who facilitates the class, at the park and G said, in a completely adult tone of concern, "how did my sister do today?" Jacki, who never speaks down to kids or expects that they are talking about anything less than what they are, bent down and replied, "she did really well. Thank you for asking." G then showed her insight and understanding, saying, "that's good, because she was really worried and was upset because..." then nailed the issue on the head (I'd been struggling all week to understand/articulate it). Love it! Love her!

I'm lucky, incidentally, as "loving" is the primary description I'd give to both of our girls. My intent is that they go through each day of their lives feeling confident always that they are loved, deeply and unconditionally.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Leonardo Live


From the promo: "Beginning February 16, 2012, art lovers around the world will be able to experience LEONARDO LIVE, a satellite-delivered HD presentation of the once-in-a-lifetime exhibition “Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan”, captured at the U.K. National Gallery.

LEONARDO LIVE offers an unprecedented opportunity for audiences worldwide to experience these da Vinci works. The historic exhibition is sold out in London and, due to the fragility of the paintings, the exhibition cannot tour."


Everyone we know seemed to be abuzz about this and we hurried to get tickets, sure that it would quickly sell out. (As it turned out, the theater wasn't full - our group of four families, plus what appeared to be a lot of retirees, willing to brave downtown traffic on the night of a Presidential visit for this (almost) once-in-a-lifetime chance to see the exhibit. What the heck: it was an adventure and interesting, too. Totally worth a late night.) This New York Times review is critical, but summarizes the experience well: flawed and not as good as being there in person, but still worthwhile.

On the left, The Last Supper - K's favorite. On the right, an unfinished piece of Mary the Mother of God with her own mother, St. Anne. That was my favorite because it shows so beautifully the loving intimacy of women's relationships. (G declined to select a favorite, though "The Lady in Ermine" (above) seemed to catch her eye because of the subject ("what is she holding?")

If you get a chance to see it, go for it! We learned a lot.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Nature Day

New views on a super-cold, but crystal clear and gorgeous day. We did a lot of milage, both in games and on the trail - needed to stay warm! On the right below, K is showing a friend how to sip nectar from a Sticky Monkey flower.

Charles thinks that he is Meriwether Lewis. Hee hee. Kids are huddled to plan their game.

This was FUNNY! We found this tacked to the tree on which the kids had built their fort. "Do not build any structures!" That this group of four to seven year olds has been officially deemed to have built a "structure" is a compliment, indeed!

A ground view from underneath on this sunny day....

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Macbeth in the Park

Well, in a theater in the park. And free! By the same people who offer the free Shakespeare in the Park series. A gorgeous room with views of the bridge behind, a great production, and a "playshop" afterwards to get more into Shakespeare's words.

This was beforehand, exploring the cannons in the Presidio. This was was used against the U.S. in the Philippines in about 1897.

View of audience in the balcony.

"Macbeth" on left and "Macduff" on right rehearsing the final fight scene. "Whaddaya mean, you aren't of woman born? Doggone it, anyway!" (Well, maybe that isn't a precise quote.)

Afterward, waiting to ask the actors a question. The entire (abbreviated, just 75 minute) production had only five actors in all roles.

Playshop afterwards. Creating a "frieze" out of specific lines from the play.