Saturday, May 31, 2014

Showboat Fun

Earlier this year, one of our young friends played "Trouble" in the San Jose opera's production of Madama Butterfly.  This time we got to see one of K's best friends in the San Francisco Opera's dress rehearsal production of Showboat.  Loved it!  The singing was great, the sets were gorgeous, and seeing a friend on stage was (again) an awesome experience.

Here are some fantastic highlights, with our friend in the background at 4:30:

Friday, May 30, 2014

Fun Math Club

Our first time with a math club and it was great.  Our facilitator, a really lovely person and skilled teacher, made playing with math really fun.  I was so impressed and learned a few things myself about how to explain math concepts.  Such great people we are lucky to know...

Afterward, we trekked from sunshine to fog, spending an afternoon playing at the beach in just the summer weather I remember as a kid.  The kids found sand crabs, which I also remember digging for; here G displays hers and it scrabbles in her palm.  Great day!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Mission Mural Tour

The kids designed a completed their own mural a few weeks ago; now it was time to tour a small part of the Mission district and see some of the other murals that are part of the fabric of the neighborhood.  A great tour, mostly in Spanish with some English explanations for those of us slow with the second language.  He covered the art as well as cultural, political, and religious elements of the murals.  Just in this short tour we learned so much and it made me want to see more....

A "mestizo" Christ

In this one, a pastoral scene includes layers of human bodies, enriching the soil.

In an alley full of murals.  Lovely to celebrate the human capacity to seek and create beauty.

In this one, of the Virgin of Guadalupe, the flowers spill over onto a pole that holds up a street sign.  Love this!

Colors!  Textures, too, caused by thick drips of paint and decrepit wood as the canvas.

Love this look of enduring beauty and meaning amidst neglect

The face replaced a previous image; the eyes up close are symbols of war and peace.

Getting into the art!

The talent behind these is amazing, with such rough canvas especially

Another one where the jumble of colors makes it appear as if the viewer and the art are one and the same.

The peeling paint behind these two seem to add to the beauty.  We had been told that street art is considered temporary art, not expected to last, and that knowledge added a poignancy to the decay that is part of the beauty.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Coastal Adventures

The girls were extras on a movie set; a teen who has won multiple awards for his productions needed a group of kids to react in a movie theater.  Took a while, which was a good experience, getting a sense for the hard work that goes into movie making.

Afterward, we had a fun cast party and then the three of us hit the road, up to visit Uncle Mike, Aunt Terry, and Puck's dog mama and two of his brothers.  Corey and Tori were there too, which was our plan, to get to see them a bit while they were in CA.  A fun trip, a quick trip (though K says that it is a "crime" to go for such a short time). 

Love you Uncle Mike and Aunt Terry!

Choco, Murphy, and Puck watching mama Delaney in the water. 

First time on a paddle board.  The water was cold - glad no one fell off!

I love these wonderful adventurers!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Golfing with Dad

Nothing seems to convince the girls that this is fun, but I miss our date nights, which so often began by hitting a bucket of balls at the driving range.  I've never been good at it, but it feels surprisingly good to whack at a small ball after a long day/week at work.  They got into it a little this day, so perhaps there is hope.

It was Puck's first experience with a driving range and he is... undecided.  :-)

Monday, May 26, 2014

Birds of Prey Day

Another day where it was fun to see friends, but at which the actual events of the learning experience left something to be desired.  It is a small museum - really sweet and cool, but small.  So spacing the birds of prey demonstrations an hour apart left little to do between presentations.  We learned a lot about the kestrel, though, and got to see it close up, plus we got to see the adorably fascinating burrowing owls, snakes, badgers, bobcats, and more.  And bees... totally fascinating to watch bees and compare their activity to our recent observations of ants.

Saturday, May 24, 2014


This guy is massive!  I saw him (or a clone friend) fly to the same flower last week, but didn't think I had time to get the camera.  However, the last time it just stayed and I'd wished I had.  This time, I got closer and closer until I was just about on top of him, inches away.  He was probably as big as a hummingbird, with feathers.  Spectacular!

Friday, May 23, 2014

CA History: Casa Sanchez Adobe Homeschool Day

The location and history are interesting - home to one of the only Mexicans to resist the Bear rebellion and takeover of California by the United States.  We wondered initially whether Jessie Benton Fremont would have stopped by on her journey from San Francisco to Monterey, but quickly realized that her husband, who ignited the American takeover, would probably not have been welcome.  The history at the Adobe has been re-written as "an early protest of Civil Rights" perhaps forgetting that Mexico had only occupied California for 30 years by then and that there were previous occupants from who they had likewise asserted control.  Mark that down as a critical thinking exercise as we discussed the many perspectives and ways those could be presented, accurately and yet incompletely.

The docents who ran this day were overwhelmed; apparently they got a lot of last-minute reservations and there were too many people for the number of volunteers there.  The activities therefore lacked historical or other cohesion - we were instructed to watch a video that couldn't be heard or seen well, then ushered elsewhere before it was over.  We couldn't authentically engage in the activities for fear of breaking tools.  The kids got marvelously messy building "adobe" bricks, but were doing so in an incomplete way, leaving out important ingredients.  We got fed up and left before most, glad we got to see it and the many friends who were there, glad also to go.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Hiking - and more - with Puck

A fun day hiking with friends and the only picture I get is of the puppy.  He is too tired to walk the whole way, but the backpack is a less-than-ideal way to carry him.  Still working on that one...

This was a different walk... look who thinks he's in charge!


I actually took this at book club.  Ike always wants to be in the middle of everything and Puck is the same, sleeping together under the table where we were doing activities.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Book Club: The City Under the Back Steps

Choosing this book was probably a mistake - it has been out of print for some time and was hard for everyone to get.  On the other hand, good friends with excellent taste strongly recommended it and we are always hoping to entice them to come to book club, so it was a worthy effort.

The book has two children shrinking to ant size and having an adventure as slaves of two neighboring ant colonies.  We learned a lot about ants, both through the book and through our activities, for we went outside looking for them, then examined their patterns, followed them to their dens, watched them carry their babies, tracked their routes through the yard, and more.  The book has a strong sexist (very 1950s) theme that the ant world quickly corrects, for while Craig treats cousin Jill as lacking value because of her gender, he gets the treatment back a hundred fold in the ant world where he is warned not to even divulge that he is male because he would be seen as so useless.

We had insect themed food, great conversation, and lots of fun with enthusiastic friends.  A great day!

Prepping the food
Ant food (what the ants ate in the book) and insect-themed food

Examining ants

Spots of syrup to attract them, which worked better than celery, as we discovered!

Finding the entrance to one colony -  so focused!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Crazy Science Dads Unite

Who builds a giant contraption for setting fire to branches in the park?  A super cool science dad, that's who!  George isn't pictured, but he is the engineer; Charles is another cool science dad who was eager to participate.  As were the kids, of course.  Safety first!

(And maybe this is something we shouldn't mention to the Park and Rec department, who seemed leery of kids even climbing trees, to their shame!)

Monday, May 12, 2014

Culture Club: Learning about Japan and Shibori

I had never heard of this art or term, a technique of dying fabric over stiches to make beautiful and elaborate designs.  Fun and fascinating!