Thursday, March 29, 2012

Wild Days at the Shore: Mud, Birds, Crabs, Fun

I realize as I look at these that the photos don't quite capture either 1) the number of gorgeous birds that we saw or 2) the thick gooeyness of the mud (clay, really) that covered four of the seven kids. When we sprayed them off, it didn't come off immediately - and when it did, it was so thick that the mud not only seemed to resist, but revealed layers that included small shells. They had a lot of fun with the mud (those who wanted to avoided it) and the wet ones got changed and warm just before it got itchy and uncomfortable. A beautiful day - cloudy but dry for the first few hours, then sunny and perfect for the rest.

I brought a water quality experiment to do and lots of bird identification resources, but their creative play was too intense and interactive to interrupt. It is so fascinating to watch them resolve conflict, negotiating and finding creative solutions. G and a friend both complained to me at one time about the other, for example, but when I asked them for their solutions, they decided to divide the space they had been arguing over in half and create an imaginary door in the middle "for you [me]." It was also really amusing to watch a couple of very clean, very organized groups from the local school (we recognized some kids) come through on a tour. I heard the docent explaining what a flock of birds was to a group of five-six year olds all seated peacefully and surrounded by clean parents (what's that like?) while ours ran wildly in the background, literally dancing in the grass and quoting Shakespeare at each other. To me it looked like the very essence of joyful freedom, creative minds celebrating life.

"I love these flowers because I am patriotic and love California" said one of our friends. Another time, I overheard G telling one of the girls that she is "one of [her] five best friends." Curious, the other little girl asked who the others were. She listed three. "What about numbers four and five?" "Oh, I don't know them yet." So lovely and optimistic, to create an expectation of future opportunities.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Fun Family Hike in the Rain

At one point, more than 20 families had signed up for our newest plan - a monthly family hike! But in the end there were three... and me with broken toes, a terrible head cold, and the pressing need to prepare dinner for visiting family. We had fun, despite light rain and considerable toe pain. The girls got to see friends, find more newts, and pet horses. All-in-all, a great afternoon. No newt kissing this time, thank goodness!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Harry Potter Birthday Party Extravaganza

We haven't yet read Harry Potter (isn't it scary? I recall that it was and the only one that I saw - the first one - was pre-kids!) After this birthday party, I feel like we don't need read or see it - we were there! The best of the action, experienced first hand.

In this first photo, we are entering at train platform nine and three quarters.

Below left, G is using a magic potion to shrink Daddy... and it seems to be working! Below right, an amazing animated hat is telling K which class/school (?) she is being assigned to.

Below, chanting spells in Latin as part of the "transfiguration exercise;" lots of fun.

Below, an outdoor game of quidditch in the rain; the girls are the goalies (I forget the Potter name) and don't recognize the hilarious significance of the "snitch" running behind them (the bday girl's Dad, who obviously has a great sense of humor).


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Country Day - Costa Rica!

G did her first presentation ever! (She had planned to last year during China studies. But she was only three and fell asleep in the middle of the presentations that day!) She asked to do it, practiced diligently, woke me up when she had worries about it in the middle of the night, but never wavered once she decided that this was the month. She spoke flawlessly, exactly as practiced, with complete control of the audience and absolute self-possession in front of the crowd of moms and kids. I left her side while she took questions so that I could get these pictures and she gracefully and with smiling enthusiasm answered various questions posed. Often her answer was a smiling, "I don't know. Next?" Oh my gosh was she great!

K's presentation was on the "Blue Zone" of Costa Rica, where people live active lives well past the age of 100. Why? They are happy and healthy due to a plant-based diet, moderate and regular exercise, spiritual beliefs, a sense of purpose, and family involvement. We found some interesting National Geographic articles on it and a web site through which you can test your overall health and happiness. Interesting! I think K was initially intrigued by the idea that happy people live well the longest, which is what got us involved in further research.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

East End Thinkerers Get The Job Done!

G saw a newsletter I'd written for work and decided to do the same for her co-op class. Every page had a picture of the kids in her group and she wrote, "East End Thinkerers Get The Job Done!" as her theme. I really love this group of kids - very bright and strong-minded. I have ideas for what to do together and they always redirect me - music, dance, games, crafts, cooking, science projects... they know what they want to do and learn and are strong enough personalities - alone and as a group - to articulate their interests clearly.

Best, the personalities rarely clash - as strong as each is, they have unique and good ways of resolving conflict. Last week, G tried a new one when she felt she was being ganged up upon, saying with anger, "that is NOT what Jesus would do!" A long pause while the others considered this, then the youngest said, "I don't care!" G exploded, "you don't CARE what Jesus would do? Then you need to get out here!" It sounds harsh, but in fact is very much who they all are - blunt, clear, opinionated... and quick to forgive, resolve, move on. Very cool.

Below left - doing science projects (and making a huge mess!); on the right - a flower garden made of fruit.

Below left - fingerpainting. On right - completed bookmarks.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Hiking Birthday Party

Another young friend had a great party idea - a hiking party! Fortunately, there was no more than a sprinkle of rain and the combination of recent rain and high winds made visibility crystal clear and awesome. It was also icy-cold, but for some reason, the eight-and-under crowd appears to be immune to temperature discomforts. It was wonderful to see friends we haven't seen for a while and enjoy a gorgeous and fun day together. We thought they'd never make it back to the car... not because they were tired, but because there was apparently so much to explore and see that progress was incredibly slow. But happy!

On the left, the girls with a small waterfall; on the right, with Daddy admiring the view over rolling hills to the ocean and then the city beyond.

Tree climbing and small waterfall exploring.

K with the birthday boy.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Queen of the Nile has a birthday

We had fun celebrating a wonderful young friend's birthday. The sign on the left says, "the Queen Welcomes You!" On the right, G with another friend of the royal birthday girl.

K and another of the less traditional royal retinue; posing with unusual eye gear and then rowing in the Queen's Barge.

Tinkering at the Young Makers Workshop

Doing metalwork. (I just love the safety glasses look!)

Showing off a first creation; Charles name and mine in interlocking circles. In the picture on the right, the girls using a drill to put holes in their metal necklaces.

Here they are throwing their strength into a machine that makes buttons. They are very proud of their creations and I was happy to see them so focused, cooperative, and independent, taking care of each other and seeking help from the experts there without even a glance at me.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Costa Rica Prep #2

We are learning about Costa Rica this month, so we prepared traditional dishes at our house: Gallo Pinto, Melange, and Queque Seco. Of Gallo Pinto, Vegetarian Times says, "natives say there are as many recipes for Gallo Pinto as there are Costa Ricans. This rice-and-beans dish, which translates as "spotted rooster," is eaten with gusto by the majority of the population every sing day - often for breakfast - and there are those who eat it at every meal."

K is researching why Costa Rica is one of the world's "Blue Zones," where people commonly live active lives over the age of 100; this meal and the enthusiasm with which it was met likely carry some clues!

Afterward, G was apparently inspired, for as I chatted on the phone with my Dad, she got out a sharp knife, bowl, and lots of fruit and prepared her own fruit salad. Her older sister saw her at work and got involved, too. I probably would have over-supervised the cutting (I worry a lot), but I was aware-but-distracted by my conversation and so left them only distantly supervised. They worked long and hard without an accident or conflict and their salad was original (pears, tomatoes, apples, bananas, and sugar) and actually quite good!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Very Wet Wild Day

No, I mean VERY wet. As in, this has been super fun... now let's go home. I want the kids to love nature, not dread it, so we carefully gauged their comfort with the cold and wetness. They danced, played, stomped, and had great fun in the cold downpour. Then, when the edge of fun seemed to begin to wear off (and puddle play resulted in small, cold lakes inside boots) we quickly retreated to learning about nature from inside the fabulous (and mostly empty) Bay Model, a research and educational endeavor. It seemed to result in another perfect, fun day... albiet one that was very different from what we'd done previously for our "wild day" adventures.

Playing inside a "toll booth" and pretending to be a bridge worker at the top of a tower.

Cool detail on the two acre model - the contours of the underwater hillsides deep beneath the bridge.

An exhibit within the museum - showing the role Sausalito played in the WWII ship-building effort. I had had no idea! The kids played and played within the exhibit, learning about morse code, ship building, WWII, women's work roles, and more.

Then... a cool surprise! The Lady Washington, which is a replica of a 1750 ship built in Boston, was docked nearby. It is now an educational vessel, sailing the West coast. No one except the crew was there, so the kids got a chance to ask a ton of questions. Since many of them just finished reading about the life of Nathaniel Bowditch (who lived a generation later in nearby Salem), this was really perfect. Still wet, but fun and interesting to see history brought to life.