Monday, May 28, 2012


We visited this annual San Francisco multi-ethnic festival, which was bright and full of colors. My mom knew one of the dancers and the performances - dance and music - were as vivid as the costumes. The kids wanted to know more about the history and I loved their inquisitiveness; we saw traces of our Italy studies and Venice's carnival in some of the traditions, though clearly the music and costumes also had Caribbean roots.   I'm also noticing lots of nature awareness - on our way back to the car, G spotted an American robin sitting on her nest hidden high in a magnolia tree on the street.  I wouldn't have seen it in a million years myself, but was thrilled by their excitement at this discovery!


Checking out the Mission district murals

Happy 75th Birthday

At Carnival in the Mission (pics to follow), we saw skywriting airplanes writing "Happy 75th" in the air. "What a nice surprise," we smiled, "hope Dad/Grandpa is watching." Then fireworks too! And just a week early. Nice to share a birth date/year so nearly exactly with some bridge and so get celebrated with such appropriate style! Happy (almost) 75th, Dad!  Love you....
Oh, and to "Grandpa's Bridge" (the Golden Gate), too.  The girls and I watched the fireworks with my Mom, who got this picture.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Ranger Walk: Wildflowers

It was wonderful to hike today; we went to a local preserve with a docent who helped us identify wildflowers. She assigned K to look for funnel spiders (pictures of web below) and G (aka "Queen of the Wood Rats") to count wood rat nests. We counted 168 over three miles!



Pictured above and on hike: golden yarrow, yarrow, farwell to springs, (rare) Franciscan onions, white globe lilies, yerba buena, yerba santa, soap plant (and its root), local honeysuckle, western morning glories, oceanspray, buckeye, blue witch (related to hemlock, birdfoot, yellow mariposa lilies. We also saw a red shoulder hawk nest high in a eucalyptus with two (unusual!) babies, some carrion, a diverse assortment of trees, and many birds. In the photo above, G was showing the big girls some photos that the docents had taken of noctural life on the preserve - seven coyote puppies, bobcats, deer, rabbits, skunks, and more.  Happy, awesome day!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Wild Day - Super Fun

A micro perspective on nature, lots of happy faces, and perfect weather = a wonderful day.

I found this snake when we got home, moving just next to the house. Couldn't resist a closer view... and K sat on the fence and tried to startle random people walking by. (Hee, hee!)

Julius Caesar Performance

The soothsayer, Marc Anthony, Cassius, and a lovely fan


Hurray Grandpa!  Thanks for coming!

It was a great performance; all of the kids did a really great job. As I watched K, Shakespeare's line, "the plays the thing" came to mind (no matter that it was the wrong play). The performance, the audience, the acclaim are all the price that she pays to play - she absolutely, utterly loves the play in the truest sense of the world, taking a story and playing it out, using brilliant language with her friends to bring a plot to life. As a result, she's not as animated on performance day as during the days that are purely about the play, but as I watched her having so much fun - despite the grumpy teachers - I was full of joy. I love to watch her play, love to watch her having so much fun, love to see her in action being aso uthentically and joyfully herself. Fabulous.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Cooking Class: Serving the Parents

I dropped K off, then hid away upstairs trying to do last minute preparation for a class that night. When I came back at the stated time, I was met with beaming kids who had plates nearly overflowing with delicious food. What's not to love?

Another last class of this school year... we're winding down. Everything this year has been great, but we're looking forward to less scheduled time as well.  K doesn't love cooking, but has liked being with her friends and supplementing our Country Day learning with healthy cooking that is tied to the country of the month.

Solar Eclipse: Next one seen here in 124 years!

We went to a local library to watch the eclipse. K's astronomy teacher had contacted the architect who built the building, including this spectacularly perfect eclipse-watching domed ceiling. His story was fascinating, because he admitted never envisioning this outcome; instead, he was inspired by his wife's collander and the light designs the holes in it created to find a way to let more light into the building without adding excessive heat in summer. Love it! It was like watching art in motion, with each point of light changing shape with the progression of the eclipse until each circle, over an hour, became mere slivers of moons.  We also watched the shape change through special glasses and through shadowed reflections made with telescopes and simple box mechanisms.

About half way through....
Here, at the beginning of the eciple, Charles is letting it display on his shirt and head!

Almost at the height of it

With special borrowed glasses and Daddy's help


G said something in a group of friends about church.  One asked, "what's church?"  She responded with surprise, "What's church?  What's church?  Church is where you go to celebrate!"  "Celebrate what, asked her friend."  "Why, celebrate Jesus, of course!"

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Country Day Egypt

The girls did a presentation together, called, "The Real Cleopatra."  They read a book that presented the premise that nearly everyone has heard of Cleopatra, but few people know true facts about her and most of what they do know is influenced by Hollywood and Shakespeare, who unilaterally adopted the biased Roman perspective.  (And those Romans didn't much like being almost defeated by a woman!)  After all, they did defeat her and smash all of her statutes (despite a hefty bribe from Egyptian priests and a subsequent promise not to), so some historical tension and ongoing bias is not unexpected. 

G presented on her childhood (a bit of a disfunctional family, to say the least!) and K on her adult years as a scholar, warrior, mother, wife, ruler, strategist, and more.  Lots to admire about a woman who was patriotic, a supporter of science and engineering projects, dedicated, loyal, and maybe, after all, not actually so physically beautiful.  Or maybe she was?  The point is, she was so much more and we had fun exploring that.

Funny, we learned that she wasn't even Egyptian, and that surprised me. Surprised everyone the girls interviewed, too.  But when K said, "did you know..." to her friends, they all said, "yeah, yeah..." These kids know so much!

We also heard presentations on pyramid construction, ancient Egyptian gods, oases, the Sphinx, and more.  And the food, as usual, was interesting and wonderful.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Maker Fair

It was school bureaucracy meets creative chaos and the result was incredibly annoying. The creative chaos was there, but just as a teaser - not organized or forceful enough to overcome the group-think of systems designed to herd groups. Our 90 minute tour was cut in half with 45 minutes of waiting, being kept on bleachers with a docent who explained nothing. Then, as soon as we got inside, the guide with whom we "must stay" walked away from us without explaination to show one family the bathrooms, leaving us just standing there. Tempted to start bleeting like the animal we were being treated like, we eventually just took off on our own. We paid good money for the tickets and wanted to see something! Charles and K went back for the main fair; I couldn't stand the thought of that many people (120,000 expected!) Their review, "some neat stuff" (K) but "a lot of crap, too" (C). Too bad.

Creating and launching rockets
Chasing bubbles as we waited to get in
"Who LOVES math and science?"

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Ancient Rome Extras

Friends have been studying Ancient Rome all year and are acting out some of it for a final project. The girls were extras in the film bits: part of a procession to a statue of Diana, Roman children playing, and taking part in a battle between Romans and Gauls. All went well, though my suspicion is that in the final scene, the looks of sheer happiness on the fighter's faces may be hard to crop! That, and G as a Gaul shouting out loud to her Roman fighting partner, "the camera is not on us. We better go fight over there!"


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Just for fun

Creative dress up and imaginative play. My mom used to say that play is the work of children, that that is how they learn. Now lots of current "experts" back up the expertise that she shared decades ago. It is so clear, watching imaginative play, that there is no greater way to learn, to nurture creativity, fun, executive function, storytelling, imagination, and all of the most important attributes needed for future success.

I re-watched a Sir Kenneth Robinson video about educational paradigms in a class last night; one of the things he said that resonated is that kids this age will be retiring in the year 2065. NO ONE knows what the world will be like by then; how can we possibly prepare kids for a future that we can't even envision? Imaginative play is a good place to start (and I love these costumes!)

We've declared a belated "Spring Break" from normal academic routine while we finish off final classes with all of the preparation and excitement that comes with end of the year festivities.  As a result, this morning our kitchen/dining room looked like a stereotypical homeschooling space, with science projects galore making a mess while we explored together in our pajamas. Toothpaste, ketsup, mustard, lime juice, dish soap and more... which are acids, which are bases, and which are neutral?  We found out....

Totally miscellaneous.  This photo on the left is a typically silly K face - a little cynical and silly at the same time.  And the one on the right is gloriously G: some kids want to PLAY the piano, but when she tries, she has to at the same time figure out how it works. 

Love watching these minds at work. (And I tell them so.  All the time!)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mother's Day Hike

A beautiful hike with my mom and one of my sisters. The girls continued in their new fascination with everything, catching butterflies (oh so gently!) and two lizards (gotta be fast!)

Same insect, from the underside.

Telling the story of the capture of the lizard

New Friend

We think this is a Yellow Orb Spider (on hemlock, which freaked Gabriana out!)
Western Fence Lizard, sometimes known as a "bluebelly."  Love the gentle handling, thanks to the mentoring of Rangers David and Shannon.