Friday, June 29, 2012

Circus Bella, Frida Kahlo Fashion Walk, and more

A very busy day that began with a family "sandwich." Big smile..

We started by going to see K's favorite Shakespeare teacher perform at Circus Bella, a totally impressive outdoor and free performance. The girls laughed hysterically at the clown and gave appropriately impressed "ooos" and "aahhs" during the other parts of the performance.  Jeremy is a great teacher and K honors that with special enthusiasm for him (and thus Shakespeare), so it was great to support him AND have such a great time enjoying his other work.

We then did some errands in the City, helping my Mom at UCSF and then picking up a huge box of skulls from the Cal Academy. I should have taken a picture - G wheeling away a box larger than herself labeled "skulls" for an upcoming class on skull identification.  (On arriving home, we discovered that it contains a human skull (plaster), which made our seemingly gory "skull trek" even more startling!

From there, we enjoyed Golden Gate Park a bit, getting a wee taste of our upcoming SF history curriculum by reading new (to me) signs describing the development of the park for the midwinter exhibition of 1894.   More development then than now, at least at that specific location.  Unusual!

Our final stop was a fabulous visit to the De Young (art museum) for "Free Friday Nights." We went because one of my adult students had auditioned for and was awarded one of several parts as Frida Kahlo in a Frida "cat walk" that combined the world of fashion with her artistic approach and Mexican heritage. Throw in a large dose of modern San Francisco and imagine crazy-decadent colors and designs, from a huge mohawk-Frida to a six-foot-eight transvestite Frida. The lighting made pictures difficult, so I don't have the variations of Fridas on film but it was dynamic, enthusiastic, bright, and (mostly) beautiful.  Our favorite was the lovely and brilliant artist Maria Sanchez, whom we had come to see.  She was beautiful and elegant with a more traditional (and hand-made) approach and is shown with the girls below.


Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Odyssey Part 3

First, a discussion of the characters in The Odyssey. The kids chose one whom they liked, dressed like that person if they so wished, then described a problem that the character faced. We then had a discussion about alternatives to solving each problem, which led to a later exercise....

But first, we mapped his voyage. I learned a lot: Ithaca is tiny, for one! (I jokingly called Odysseus "the King of Alcatraz.") Also, there are many similarities between the evolution of Greece as a nation and Italy, Ireland, England, China... lots of tiny kingdoms eventually morphing into larger nations. We also learned that most of the stops in The Odyssey are suspected to be real places in the Mediterranean; we speculated on the real conditions that might have ignited each element of the myth.

Our final activity was a problem solving one: the kids were designated as time travelers, arriving near Ithaca with some tools from 2012 and a mission to help Odysseus finally get home. They began working in teams, but split off and came up with mostly-individual projects, some more successful than others. Had we had more time, it would have been interesting to see if they could merge the individual efforts into one solution for the hero. Instead, I got fun photos of the girls working hard with hammers, saws, glue guns, and more. A fun day; thanks, A!



Wednesday, June 27, 2012

SF Jazz Educational Outreach Camp

A free camp! Great jazz musicians, beautiful setting, lovely day, wonderful friends, and fun with music. Reminds me of doing camps and performances there when I was a kid, though I think it was always foggy then, never so lovely and warm.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Odyssey Part 2 of 3

Making baklava and discussing the characteristics of a hero; what we learn from Odysseus. Dissecting the meaning of the story, several of the kids concluded that the real message was about home, family, and love. Awesome interpretation.


Monday, June 25, 2012

Family Camping Reunion at Lake Tahoe

Every summer we camp with however many of my cousins, aunts, uncles, siblings, etc. will come; my parents always come too, of course. We had 41 people this time, a marvelous adventure at a gorgeous location. (The last time we camped at Tahoe as a group, I was eight months pregnant with G!) Someone else got the group photo, so these pictures focus on some of the nature and pure mountain beauty that we experienced. We all had a wonderful time seeing everyone, catching up, eating, enjoying the incredible views, playing volleyball, swimming, and more. The difficult part is always saying goodbye, but I am so grateful that this has become a priority for most so we are pretty certain to see everyone again relatively soon.

Dog "cousins"

Photo by K

This Meranger family was adorable!  The babies took turns riding on mom's back; I'd never seen that before!

Trying out volleyball

A Meranger baby who got lost, then captured by K, then released near its mom.

Trying to ID the meranger on our bird chart

Was it cold?  YES!  Temperature dropped to 29 degrees at night; even Ike needed covers.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Evolution Class

Wonderful teacher! Interesting two-day class. Both girls enjoyed all of the information and activities and learned a lot.  Thanks so much, Judy!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Odyssey, Part I

Our regular book club is on summer break, but when friends decided to read Homer, we couldn't resist the chance to re-read and play/learn together. This day (the first of three get-togethers,) we talked through the plot, created playing cards with Illiad and Odyssey characters, created a timeline giving some context to "6th century, B.C.," built the walls of Troy and Trojan horses, and feasted on Greek food.
Creating a timeline to show how long ago it was written.
Creating "Go Fish-like" Odyssey cards
K's "Wall of Troy."  Others made Trojan Horses.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Happy Father's Day

Saturday, G woke up very early, excited and then disappointed.  She wanted it to be Father's Day already!  So, ever convincing, she got me to go with her to the grocery store to get special supplies for a breakfast-in-bed fest, deciding that two days in a row was better than one.  I took this picture later, when I was otherwise engaged, big sister refused, and only Daddy was willing to read one of the dreaded fairy chapter books (an endless series with the same exact plot each time).   For this alone he deserves accolades, though she and her sister can come up with many more reasons to honor him, daily expressions of love and solicitude that combine to bless them with an involved, concerned, loving and awesome Dad.

Another story:  we were in the car and I said that a certain town reminded me of the No. Cal. town of Eureka.  The kids didn't seem to be paying attention, but K perked up at this and shouted cleverly, "WHAT did you find?  Ha, ha.  Later, I asked her how she knew the meaning of this Latin word.  She thought a moment, then said, "Archimedes!"  Of course, the story of the great mathematician: "Eureka" is what he shouts at moment of a discovery.

Finally, Father's Day wouldn't be complete without honoring my Dad, whose parenting example inspires me every day to be a better parent.  I have so many memories of your patience and attentive presence - comforting my bad dreams in the middle of the night, talking through middle school projects, taking off work to see me compete in high school cross country meets, seeminly endless carpools....  always with patience, humor, and present love.  I so appreciate you, Dad, and love you so much!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Point Lobos (x2) and Carmel Mission

We had a wonderful time at a friend's house for a family vacation (with me commuting back on teaching days; not a bad deal.) My parents came to visit and we explored the area a bit, enjoying beautiful weather whether warm or foggy. We also saw beautiful late-spring flowers and lots of wildlife on our hikes, from milipedes to deer, seals, and even a raft of sea otters! Later, friends joined us and it was wonderful to relax and explore together, going back to our favorite outdoor spots and the lovely Carmel mission, which combines beauty with history to score big time with all of us. Thanks to Susie, Mom and Dad, the R&B clan, and D-J-A for making it such a great and memorable time.

With Abuela

Here, my normally not poetic girl said, "I just want to stay here forever!"

Male California Quail.


Harbor Seal
Hurray for visiting friends!  Pt. Lobos is a must-visit-again with them.
At the Mission site where Fr. Serra placed the first cross.
Outside the Mission church, built in 1771 (redone since)
Fr. Junipero Serra's bedroom at the Mission museum.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


So much beauty in nature - both expansive views and tiny details to notice. When I am at the ocean, I feel like the memory of every ocean view I've ever experienced comes back in sudden memories, especially those in moody climates: foggy days near the Cliff House in San Francisco, the amazing remoteness of Easter Island, floating ice on Baffin Island, Antarctica, Cape Town, swimming in Ireland's North Sea, camping in Acadia National Park in Maine, so many more.

This day, we had so much fun exploring with friends, despite a high and very chilly wind, which Mom failed to adequately prepare for. (Did I really take my jacket off just as we left the house, thinking I was overdressed? Ay!)


Nesting gull