Saturday, February 28, 2015

Rhetoric Class

This was a cool assignment, part of K's rhetoric class.  We had special fun with the final category.  The kids are learning the ancient Greek methodology for rhetoric and lessons so far have included: pathos, ethos and logos persuasion, the invention stage of developing an argument: understanding fact, quality, definition, procedure , and defining an audience for persuasive argument.
Think I'm getting nervous about winning household arguments?  Yep....
In an old house in Paris
That was covered with vines
Lived twelve little girls in two straight lines.
Words reorganized
In Paris, lived twelve little girls in two straight lines
In an old house that was covered with vines.
Synonym substitution:
An ancient residence near the Louvre, which had many live plants on its walls, housed a dozen small female children in one more than one non-squiggly lines.
An ancient house, so very old that it is amazing that it is still standing, located in a wonderful place near the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower in the magnificent city of Paris, was buried with the oldest plant structure known to mankind. This was the residence of half dozens of little female human beings in two extraordinarily firm and straight lines.
Twelve little girls lived in a house in Paris.
Classic to contemporary:
To a new public school in Belmont, that was scraped of its vines, were driven hundreds of bored children, who would soon be in lines.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Fabulous Hike with Friends

Long overdue, but worth the wait; we had a near-perfect day of hiking (so beautiful) and spending time with good friends. We even found a Western Fence lizard; which the kids' together named 'Grandpa Edgie." Must do this more often.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Busy and Tired

I made a list of what they need to accomplish each day, primarily to keep them focused on that particular day. Math, language arts, a weekly essay for K, Spanish, and U.S. History. Charles accuses me of following Common Core, but the truth is that I go through all available standards (state, "what your x-grader should know, etc.) and then make decisions based on where they need to focus, which can vary as their individual strengths emerge and wane. Adding Thinkering and the TV-show production to our list corresponds with the beginning of the baseball season and twice-weekly practices, as well as additional choir practices during Lent and ongoing training for the Bay to Breakers. So they are busy... and tired. (And so darling, really!)

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Preparing to Produce a Television Show

One of the local public access stations saw the kids' Ted Talks and asked them to do a monthly show.  They are having fun planning and learning what goes into such a show!  They call themselves, "What Kids Can Do" and are working on a variety of show topics.  Most importantly, they are sharing leadership and working well in a consensus-based model, which is allowing the process to be kid-driven.  So far, it has been excellent teamwork and very productive.

Monday, February 23, 2015

A Key Advantage of Homeschooling

Your puppy can help with your homework (G) and play basketball with you (K) when the more formal schoolwork concludes.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Thinkering Begins Spring 2015

Their most favorite day of the week and weeks of the year.  Shakespeare in the morning, rhetoric and mobile art in the afternoon for K and science and geography in the afternoon for G.  Great teachers, great kids, great fun.  I meant to get a picture of them taking off with their lunch boxes, as it is the closest we get to a "back to school" photo, but they disappeared into class too quickly for me...

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Guitar Lessons

G started a few weeks ago; K is taking classes with her so that they can help each other learn.  They are both so serious and focused!  I am usually in meetings while they play, but this time I got to see them in action and it was fun.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Ash Wednesday

Don't know if Mass is making them holier, if so, this picture counts as negative evidence (unless there is a special form of holiness that takes the form of mischievousness?  One will have to hope....)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Trebuchet Battles

An engineering play date/sleep over; they built trebuchets left over from a team building exercise Charles facilitated for a group of Google employees, then launched candy rollos at each other, using safety goggles, of course.  Fun!

Sunday, February 15, 2015


Got it on film:  K's free throw shot goes in!  Her team is still losing their games, but they are giving it their all and are fun to cheer for.  Wish the season was longer!

SF Shakespeare in Town

After the basketball game, we went to the library for an abbreviated version of "As You Like It," which K was in a couple of years ago.  The animated acting was great for them to see and of course it is always fun to revisit the language and comedy that they grow to know and love.  Fun!  So glad to have SF Shakespeare and all that they offer...

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Three Friends Cookies Cakes and Pies

This Valentine's Day launched the grand opening of Three Friends Cookies Cakes and Pies, the girls' newest entrepreneurial endeavor.  The web site is still under construction, but they set up an email address ( from which they are taking custom orders.  They delivered three dozen cookies on this day and by offering free samples with their order forms received several dozen additional orders.  Go, girls! Initial feedback is that the quality and packaging are both excellent, making the cookie boxes an excellent deal.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Book Club! Inside Out and Back Again

Still - after five years plus - one of our most favorite days of the month.  This month's selection, Inside Out and Back Again, was written in semi-autobiographical prose by Thanhha Lai. 

We talked a lot about the content, which is about the immigration experience of a Vietnamese family who came to the United States during the Vietnam/American war and resettled in Alabama.  Our discussion was marvelously fruitful, with the kids bringing up questions of who the protagonist and antagonist were and with various thoughts about what point in the book constituted the climax. 

We also talked a lot about the power and limitations of prose.  So much emotion is captured in fewer words, carefully chosen, but the kids also felt strongly that the book ended too suddenly, without a solid conclusion.  A weakness of the style or part of its power? Great discussion pondering both.

In the end, we agreed that the author's message is one of resilience - sadness, loss, and change, difficulty and fear, but excitement and goodness, adventure, strength, and abiding love within family and community that is both enriched by and yet goes beyond individual culture.  An excellent and memorable book, one that enriches the readers.

Three scenes from the book, organized by the girls:  1)  Bullying in the school in Alabama; 2) the family's Alabama sponsor/"cowboy" and his mean wife; the boat crowded with refugees.  All is covered by a scarf I bought when I was in Vietnam and a pillow I bought from our Hmong guide in Northern Vietnam.

Papaya is the main character's symbol; we ate it and also feasted on other Vietnamese dishes - yum!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Animal Friends

Cute!  Puck makes friends with Mango, one of the kitties we're watching for friends.  He's very interested, very cautious, very gentle.

Sunday, February 8, 2015


A rainbow and rushing creek behind the house; lovely signs of much needed rain.  We were soaked by the time we got home from Mass; a downpour with good timing as it was fun to get so wet.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Basketball Team Photo

After the game.  They never give up and are a great group with wonderful support from parents and coaches... two games to go in this too-short season!

 What's a team photo without the silly shot?

Friday, February 6, 2015

Social Robot Workshop

Working to express emotion; I thought this guy was a cutie!

Love this dude they built!

And this one, too!  Head could spin and light up, based on how they built him.

Later the same day, working on a construction project designed to learn how to make buildings more earthquake resistant.  This kid may not end up getting a job as a civil engineer, but I am convinced that she is one at heart, no matter what other things she may choose to pursue..

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Cutie Cat Sitting

We're cat sitting for two cuties; K told me to call this picture "Filch and Mrs. Norris," a Harry Potter reference.  Animals love her and reveal her sweet heart, though she tries often to hide it under layers of toughness and stoicism.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Super Bowl Cousin Time

Watching the Super Bowl with cool cousin A, who very much wanted the Patriots to win.  K's arm around him was for moral support, I suppose, and general affection for an awesome kid.