Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Christmas in August?

I went to help my Mom with a project; my Dad played with the girls. Turns out they forgot to use a gingerbread house kit last Christmas and it was about to expire. The girls readily agreed that there is really no bad time to build gingerbread houses and had a great time. Thanks Dad!

(Have to admit that I threw the leftovers out, though. Something about eight-plus month old gingerbread. If it is NOT bad, something's wrong....)

Monday, July 30, 2012

Birthday in the Wine Country

What fun! A REAL surprise party - the man of the hour truly had no idea. A lovely family, full of affection and care and admiration. An incredibly beautiful setting. Friends we hadn't seen for a long time and new, lovely people. Nothing to do but talk and play. A pool full of kids. What could be a better way to spend the day and then the night? The only problem was dragging ourselves back to reality when it was over. Happy Birthday, Harold!!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Fang Returns

Ike was doing his business and walked right over our friend Fang, the local garter snake whom we've now spotted (and caught) on three different occasions. I can't resist grabbing him and showing him to the girls, who love him. Well, that's clear from the photos! We released him where we found him (with the hope that we will keep spotting him).

Friday, July 27, 2012

A Day of Adventure and Fun in the City

On the train

Part of the Venezuelan group

Fun at Mel's Diner

Carousel fun
We had a fun day, walking to the train station and then taking multiple forms of transport to arrive in the heart of the City for a children's concert.  The trip was fun and it was great to meet up with friends.  The music was great when they stuck to Venezuelan music, but adding one song whose only lyrics were "you should recycle" was completely lame.  The nearby playground was fun, though - the kids ran and ran, exuding excited joy.  We then went to a nearby Mel's Diner for a festive lunch (the girls wouldn't eat their American cheese grilled cheese sandwiches, saying that they tasted "like plastic.")  Riding a historic carousel was a treat too - it had been originally destined for SF, but re-routed to Seattle after the 1906 earthquake.  It was at SF's Playland until the late 1960s, moved to Long Beach for a while, and now returned to SF.  I thought the history was interesting, but the girls and friends just had fun.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Park Day Gone Wild

Park Day is usually a tame extended "recess," maybe two or three hours max. Summer park day tookon new dimensions - nearly eight hours of outdoor play. Here, they are using newly installed barbeque grills to lower and raise each other. Not the intended use, but they weren't hurting it and certainly having fun!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Weekend of Music and Dance

Charles drummed in a band, then the next day danced enthusiastically with the girls at a cajun fiddle band in a local park. They are pictured with a favorite cousin in a ginko tree.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

A Midsummer Night's Dream WOW

"The greatest play in the history of the world." That was how the director introduced it, explaining why he made few changes to the original. Those that were made were in line with the Hawaiian theme - instead of "weeds of Athens he doth wear" we got "weeds of Old Navy he doth wear." Hee, hee. The physical humor in this production was fantastic - all of the actors in the Lysander, Demetrius, Helena, and Hermia roles must double as circus performers. They were very raunchy, too... but that seems to go over the kids heads, for now.

We all laughed hysterically throughout the three hour performance, right to the 11PM end. It was a special treat to see the marvelous Cat Thompson as Titania - she was K's first Shakespeare teacher and always an incredible presence on stage. Puck and Oberon were likewise fabulously dynamic as crazy-loud, fierce, "traditional" Hawaiian Gods.
We sat in the second row; awesome close!
Bottom and Titania, from program

On stage at Intermission

Friday, July 20, 2012

Mellow Week

I'm starting to plan for the new school year, asking for learning goals, considering various opinions about what topics should be covered for their respective "grades," signing up and beginning to coordinate. We started back doing some basics, too, after a hiatus caused by end-of-the-school-year scheduling chaos and then vacation. In the meantime, we made it to the pool three times, which made the girls very happy, hiked with friends, took care of The Princess Dog, and saw another friend in her first musical presentation. Nice to be mellow.
After hiking 4.5 beautiful miles, they obviously weren't in the mood to pose.
The Princess Dog takes a seat in the window.

Playing after the performance.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Blue Pill Bug

Discovery of the day:  a blue colored pill bug (outside of Safeway, spotted by K).  We wondered, Calpurnia Tate-style, if we'd discovered a new species and K even named it, "Lavender Kathmomiana."  Some research brought new knowledge - NOT a new species but a typical, average bug with a virus - iridovirus, to be specific.  Well, who knew that being sick could make you so pretty!

Weekend Fun


Pictured above:  mini golf and bumper boats to celebrate one ten year old friend's birthday.  The next day, at a birthday party for a seven year old friend who chose a dragonfly theme, the girls designed their own costumes: a butterfly (left) and a spittlebug (right).

Friday, July 13, 2012

Earthquake Exhibit!

Cool exhibit that simulates the feeling of an earthquake - both the 1906 earthquake and the 1989 one. The simulation was neat, but the planetarium show on earthquakes was even better; going around the globe and back in time.  When we left, K said, "that was the best movie I've ever seen!"   Shown below, right:  G and friend practicing taking cover in case of a quake.  Far below, left - baby ostrich, just 17 days old.  Far below right:  a cousin tea party.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Skull Identification Workshop

We used a kit from the California Academy of Sciences, rental of which had required that I attend a teacher training session. The class was interesting and very hands on, using teeth types and eye socket location as the basis for skull identification. We supplemented the (cool) skulls provided with the kit with some gory ones that we borrowed from our neighbor, which created quite an atmosphere for the class as well as some nice practical application of learning.

A very disgusting pig skull.

Examining vision as prey


Measuring peripheral vision as if we were prey.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Music Camp or... Well, Just Bust

Except for seeing friends and being in a beautiful location, it was mostly a bust.  The kids made batons with a cork and chopsticks and then were taught to "conduct."  K's look above says it all.  It was surprising, as the camp was geared towards kids up to age 13.  Oh well... can't win 'em all.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Backpacking on Angel Island

One night at home, then off on another adventure. They were all mad at me for making the reservations; admittedly, it wasn't great planning! But once we were there, it was such fun.

All of the day visitors returned home and we had the island seemingly to ourselves (there were four other campers in other sites, but they were on the other side of the island). Yes, in mid summer, no one else! It was amazing. We arrived in camp at about 3:30 with nothing to do but set up the tent, which takes no time at all. I had packed to the bare-bones, thinking that carried weight would be an issue. It hadn't been, though, and now we had no books, no playing cards, nothing....

Again, I marveled at these kids; undeterred by having no "entertainment," they played hand games, sang, made musical instruments from sticks, put on a play, and danced like crazy. No one around = no need to be quiet. We parents huddled in the tent as the sun went down and the wind picked up and as they danced, G stuck her head in, saw us just sitting, and said, "You are boring!" Yes, but we learn. Later, the girls and I sat at the entrance of the tent, huddled in sleeping bags against the cold, and watched the action on the bay as oil tankers, container ships, tug boats, ferries, sailboats, and more went past and the lights of Oakland, Berkeley, and Richmond began to light up, barely visible below the fog layer that covered the East Bay, but not the bay itself. As we sat there, a juvenile raccoon appeared, not five feet from us, charming the girls with its cuteness (this was their first encounter). Later, we heard raccoons trying our food bin in the night.  We woke to thick fog that now covered the bay and the island as well, but it quickly cleared and the views back to the harbor and across to the car were gorgeous.

Fabulous, magical trip!