Sunday, June 30, 2013

Shakespeare in the Park

Too hot for many photos; the production started out slow and lacked chemistry, but got better as it went on, though it was darker and more tangibly violent than previous productions I've seen. Two of K's previous teachers were in it, starring at Lady Macbeth and as Lady Macduff. Both girls mouthed many of the lines along with the actors and K got to see the lines that she carried off done by a professional in some of the most famous scenes in literature. She kept critiquing the performance in whispers to me, "he's good; better than me..." and I would think, "but you did that too - lines, emotion, and drama." Seeing the pros made me appreciate my girl and her love for Mr. S. even more. Next year we are looking forward to more and different Shakespeare opportunities, so this whet our appetite. And thank goodness that sun set soon after we arrived... we were very much melting out there!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Anenome Gardens

Some as big as sunflowers!

Looking for Selkies

Well, I was, anyway. The girls were more practical, climbing over sharp rocks to find starfish, anenome gardens, more hermit crabs, and more. We did spot seals very close to the shore, watching us, making me think of the selkie legends. I kept a sharp eye on my lovely daughters as the beautiful sunny day transitioned into a mysteriously gorgeous and foggy evening, sunset still lighting lush hillsides over the approaching fog. An evening to remember... we don't want to leave.



Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Carmel Mission

I love the Carmel Mission - San Carlos Borromeo de Carmel Mission. Remembering our embarrassment last time when we realized on Sunday that we'd forgotten decent clothes for church we prepared this time... then went to an evening mass that was more casual anyway. I feel a lot to be grateful for, need much support for all that I want to accomplish, and need a sense of peace to do so, so it felt lovely being together in conversation with God in such a beautiful location. I feel like I am overflowing with love and gratitude and now have a growing energy around approaching the creative challenges I envision for the next (few, short) summer months.
Before Mass
After Mass, with statue of Fr. Junipero Serra
This was a modern statue of an angel;
not my favorite, until it got its two enhancements!
Beautiful "Indian Madonna and Child" in an
alcove amongst the elementary school classrooms

Monday, June 24, 2013

Making Pretzels

As previously mentioned, last week we watched a "reality show" about amateur chefs in a contest. Bread was the theme and the participants were challenged to make soft pretzels, among other things. Well, in my time I've made bagels, gnocchi, tortellini, and more, but never pretzels. Still, the interest remained and so this morning we gave it a try. I was pretty sure that we hadn't let the dough rise enough, but I was in a rush to get to work so we kneaded and shaped our dough nonetheless. The result was beautiful and delicious - or "delish" - as my proud chefs crowed with delight.


Saturday, June 22, 2013

Vacation Relaxation and Fun

Together they beat me in basketball
by three points.  Excited!

My hat and glasses = a glamorous G

A beautiful day for an outdoor game of monopoly

Friday, June 21, 2013

Extraordinary Bird's Nest

Our neighbors showed us this bird's next, extraordinary for several reasons. First is its construction - seemingly multi-layered, with different sized sticks for the foundation and then a separate soft bed of straw. Then there was the location - at about hip level at the top of some lavender plants along a busy walkway. Must be why it was vacant. More research needed to determine the bird type, but just looking at it was intriguing.


Thursday, June 20, 2013

More on Summertime Learning

Ha, ha!  We watched a cooking show and the next day I found this set up in the play room. 
I have now been directed to learn how to make pretzels....

I took this shot after K came running to me on one "vacation" day, exclaiming,
"I need to learn cursive!"  So they sat down over a workbook I had on hand and began to teach themselves.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


Swimming. The antidote to bickering; perfect sister fun. We're lucky to live near a free pool! Joy all around....

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day

Ha, ha! I feel like one of those people on Facebook who posts pictures of their meals... but this was truly a masterpiece of a Father's Day breakfast-in-bed meal. The girls had picked out cards and had been hiding them for weeks, so they were very excited to give them to him. Our plans to spend the day with my Dad changed when he was called away to emergency child care duties, so we went bowling again, finding a great deal in which everyone can bowl free - and we only paid $1 each for the shoes. Finding extraordinary deals is a celebration in itself! Another (unpictured) Daddy feast of sauteed chard, spinach, and 'quatro formaggio' completed a fun and relaxing celebration.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Cousin Fun

Happy Birthday, Amelia! A fun and relaxing day playing, swimming, and creating a band together.


Friday, June 14, 2013

Table of Plenty

Sister Jeanette on left; K and dessert cart at right

K and I participated in an event with staff and faculty from my paid job called, "Table of Plenty."  A lovely and energetic Sister of Notre Dame, Sister Jeanette, organizes a weekly community event to feed people in a nearby farming community who need a good and free meal.  Some of those in our group arrived early in the afternoon to prepare the food; we got there in time to help with the serving, learning that doing so required me to wait tables with the intent that we mimic the best service at the highest restaurant.  My skills from working with Uncle Mike and Aunt Terry at The Keg in Manitou Springs so many years ago finally put to use! K was in charge of the dessert cart, a popular kid that night.

It was a lovely and powerful experience.  One of Sister Jeanette's regular helpers reminded us that by coming, we committed to walking in the shoes of Christ, serving each other in a way that honors each individual's dignity.  The service element was important, but so was the inclusiveness of the community; we also ate after our serving duties were nearly done and it felt good to sit down with our guests and break bread, celebrating each other in a simple and important way .

Thursday, June 13, 2013


Science experiment about density

Last weekend, the girls put their heads together and presented me with a proposition: "can we go to school?" Suspicious and not altogether out of it at that particular moment, I asked some questions before responding: "why?" and then, "when?" Turns out they want "to go to school" because they want the summer off from academic work, like school kids. Unable to commit to a WHOLE summer off but eyeing the pile of work I seem to not quite get to, I quickly agreed to at least a few weeks. 

The very next morning, they bounded out of bed, free! (Said tongue-in-cheek, as it isn't as if they have such a highly regulated schedule anyway.) The first thing they requested was to listen to their rock and roll math music and as I sat in the corner grading papers for my adult students, listening to shouts of "and eight times eight is sixty four!" I smiled to myself. They then moved on to board games - money, synonyms and metaphors, herb awareness. Then science experiments with Dad's help (a density experiment shown above). Life is rich.

 I was especially cognizant of the richness of their learning because I had recently read a series of anti-unschooling articles that an unschooling friend had shared. Their basic premise was that kids, given no direction at all, will choose to do nothing; thus, unschooling ill-prepares kids for learning or life. Even while recognizing the articles as poorly researched and even when reflecting on brilliant families we know for whom unschooling creates rich learning experiences, I felt a pang of doubt for a moment. Not that we consider ourselves unschoolers, but whenever you dodge the norm there are moments of panic and I surely relate more to unschooling than to the brick-and-mortar traditional model that the articles touted as more ideal. Seeing the choice of activities our daughters embraced when free to do anything they wished reminded me of some observations I made last week when I saw these minds so actively at work. 

In our San Francisco history activities, we moms have introduced the kids to past events through field trips that are supplemented with reading, science experiments, and some games. This week the kids were especially energetic, running through the park en route to the historic site, identifying birds on the beach and then running to play amongst them, making up games on historic boats, and more. If I had insisted upon a more traditional approach, i.e. reading each information sign as they quietly walked with me, I doubt that they would remember the facts or the bigger picture we were studying as much as they will remember the historic message they absorbed through this self-instigated roll playing. Moreover, their energy translated into practice with and learning about far more important skills than mere historic context; I watched as they self-organized, worked through conflict, created new and complicated games, and shared leadership. It was marvelous to see their minds at work in this way, together innovating, creating, and sharing through energetic and rich play. 

A life full of learning is rich indeed. Those who would posit that unschooling translates to stagnation of learning clearly haven't spent much time with children who have tasted the freedom that comes with such an environment. The lack of imagination from the authors of those articles about approaches that differ from their own experience is itself revealing and a good reminder to remain ever open to new ways of doing things.
Playing physics games together

Teaching Daddy to play
Finding them togeher at the library,
after I'd snuck off to look for resources
in the adult section.  Love their heads together!
A friend noticed that many kids don't know how
to hit a nail with a hammer.  One park day
and that was no longer a problem!  This occupied G and friend
for hours.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Pool Fun

If there is anything more fun than two and a half hours in the pool, it is two and a half hours in a pool with a friend who is a lovely, fun, and patient big kid. Joy!