Thursday, April 26, 2012

Wild Days - A Great Horned Owl, Goslings, Heron Nests, and more

A new location, rich with nature adventures:


Here in a tree just below us, where two Stellar Jays harassed it until it flew away.  Then, high in a tree not too far, where we watched it for hours through binoculars.

Anise Swallowtail butterfly showing off her/his beauty:

Another nest!

Gorgeous Red Shouldered Blackbird
  Oh-so-sweet baby goslings
California Poppies

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

First Haircut

She's been asking for a long time to get her hair cut, but it was never quite the right time. A few nights ago, after baths, I was doing her hair when she asked again. Well... it was wet already, so I agreed and took a bit off. More than I expected, forgetting how those wet curls dry! But she was thrilled. Her only concern was cute: she said, "how will people recognize me?" Then she stood up, looked in the mirror with pleasure, and answered her own question, "same smile!"

Friday, April 20, 2012

Country Day - Thailand

I love Thailand - the richness of the colors, the food, the people, the beaches, the incredibly different architecture....  Presentations today included the animals of Thailand, friends and foes (a video with footage from one friend who recently returned from a "travel schooling" adventure there); Thai festivals; Thai elephants, a folk tale, and the Songkran New Year's festival.  Oh, and perhaps the most entertaining one... Thai squat toilets and a comparison of the relative health benefits of squat versus sitting toilets, complete a diagram of relevant internal organs and very clinical discussion of said body parts.

K presented on King Cobras of Thailand and included some awesome pictures from a National Geographic article.

G presented on the Floating Markets of Bangkok.  She developed an interest after watching a video on Thailand that we got from the library.  I've always wanted to visit these myself, but never had.  Hope this didn't encourage her shopping gene too much!

Two presenters spoke of a Thai festival in which water is poured over people's heads; the kids were quite enthusiastic about the demonstration.

Our "Spirit Houses" and Loy Krathong floats in front of them, after much additional decoration.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Opera Night - Faust

On short notice, we got an offer of free tickets to this dress rehearsal. Schedules aligned, though our energy level didn't quite. Still, a commitment is a commitment and so we dragged ourselves there. Boy, was it worth it! 10:30 at night, after three hours, and we were all wide awake, enthralled (and I was weeping by the final scene). Beautifully done and - unusual for an opera - a happy ending (if you don't mind that the main characters die first).

Below left, the girls and friends checking out the orchestra. We had front row seats! Below right, posing in front of a promotional poster in front of the theater.

Below, one of my favorite things about this opera house - the fantastic lights!

More Thailand Prep: Cooking and PPT Preparation

In these pictures, at cooking class, enjoying the fruits of their labor on a table decorated with banana leaves. Clearly fun... and I did get some leftovers when I got home from work, which made me feel lucky, too!

Below, "I want to type it myself!" Preparing her PowerpPoint on King Cobras after we read a National Geographic article about them at my parent's house.

The two photos below have nothing to do with Thailand prep, but K got a microscope for her birthday and it is a source of endless random activity, comparing our hair, dust particles, bits of anything.... 
Love it!  (Thanks S and T)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Book Club: The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate

A new classic; excellent book, wonderful book club day. Our pre-discussion activities included practicing "the scientific method" by dissecting owl pellets and examining skulls and the results of various science experiments. We also made biscuits and played a rich vocabulary game, matching definitions to words; many of which made the grownups stop and think. Then the kids made up their own words and we had fun guessing the definitions; one favorite ("vocabulust") is below; another word, "gareeben," which came from one of our friends, had a definition that meant, "the state of loving Therese." Awww... I was so flattered, I was momentarily at a loss for words and I think I blushed.

She's examining an owl pellet below, which is a perfect example of step one in the scientific method - asking questions.  Specifically, "what did this owl eat?"  More voles, from what we could tell... but today, the answer wasn't as important as the process.  The book taught that, too - the journey is far more satisfying than the destination and while discovering a new plant and getting to name it for posterity is awesome (in the book, of course), moving with excitement and imagination on to the next adventure is really more thrilling than reveling for too long in celebration.

Thanks to Judy from my work for bringing us this awesome skull!  Will be used again; we have a skull identification workshop coming up in a few months.

Our fabulous vocabulary game, which included matching definitions to the words, "dessicated," "feral," "surreptitious," "ignominy," "pestiferious" and more.

One of the "cards" that we made in lieu of the more artistic ones a friend usually makes; this is the book's heroine with her hair done up for a tortuous piano recital.

Making up words game"  The "vocabulust" definition below is awesome, too:

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Wild Day of Fun, Wood Rats, Fun, and More

Cool! Landed on one of our friends, who wanted it off NOW. I put it on my jacket for a photo before removing it.

K and friend plotting as part of an elaborate game.

Very cool ground nest with eggs.

Water Quality experiments; the kids judged that it "failed," but we did learn how hard it is to purify muddy water, no matter how many times we cycled it through our home-made system.

Looking for frogs - they were loud and we must have been close, but they were incredibly elusive.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Thailand Prep Continues

Last week we made Thai "spirit houses" and floats for the Loy Krathong festival; then this week, the girls got to take a Thai cooking class from local friends who just returned from a travel schooling adventure in Thailand. G was super excited to be able to participate in a cooking class - her new passion! There were no leftovers - not good for me :-), but indicative that tasty fun was had by all.

These photos were from a different day; on G's co-op day, she pulled out one of our Thai books and shared it with the other kids; very cool.

Love the upside-down (almost) look of interest!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Happy Easter!

Our family tradition... bunny cakes. We also enjoyed a lovely Easter morning mass at a local parish - people were warm and friendly, homily was inspiring; a great start for this time of rebirth.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Happy Birthday!

A Happy Birthday morning
I thought that this was a funny picture of the bday girl's sister with her princess dress, curls, and cake

Cake time with her class.  She's never liked the attention of the Happy Birthday song, so instead we say, "Take Me Out To The Ballgame," a brilliant idea courtesy of our friend Jacki and perfect for K, who likes to celebrate, but doesn't like attention.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Thailand Prep

Creating "lotus" floats for the Loy Krathong ("Floating Lotus") festival and then building elaborate Spirit Houses. I loved these activities - such a fabulous way to represent the richness of the colors and elaborate detail of the Thai decor/architecture.