Monday, November 30, 2015


We joined friends at St. Dominics recently.  It is the parish where we met, where we were married, and where both girls were baptized.  It is one of the few places that I feel is home.  Most of our friends from there have scattered, busy with careers and/or families in a wide geographic circle, but we are lucky to get to see many of  them at least annually and find that we still all gather for special occasions.  Years ago it was weekly Masses - Sunday evening or Wednesday night.  For a while there was a flurry of weddings, then baptisms, always happy and beautifully celebratory.  Horribly, we all met four years ago for a funeral, our dear friend Mary for whom we still ache.  On this occasion, we were again honoring Mary in a brief but lovely inurnment ceremony.  I overheard some of our friends in conversation, reflecting on the role this parish has played in our lives and the many occasions we had gathered there and she said, "the one thing that never changes is that we show up, that we gather to be together."  And that means so very much....

Sunday, November 29, 2015


Our friends Maryellen and Lily visited over the Thanksgiving weekend and it was awesome to see them.  We miss them, even though we never saw them enough when they lived in town.  Thanks to Theresa for organizing and hosting our get-together!


Sunday, November 22, 2015

SF Opera: Barber of Seville

We saw this dress rehearsal last year too and loved the production - most memorable were the gorgeous sets and the fact that it has a happy ending (not what you expect from an opera) - plus the incredible cast, of course.  We were happily surprised to find friends who were there too!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Sushi Making Party

Utterly unforgettable; a birthday party for a dear ten-year old friend that had a sushi theme - dessert sushi, traditional sushi, and an amazing sushi look-alike cake.  What fun!

Friday, November 20, 2015

End of Season Soccer Celebration

Great team full of really energetic and happy girls. Great season with fun practices and exciting games. Great kid who loves soccer and who is a strong athlete who understands the game's strategy AND - more importantly - is a great team player, always full of enthusiasm and support for her teammates. A real leader; I adore her so!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Writing Class Synopsis

K has been in a writing class this semester.  
Class discussions included:
* Story Cube storytelling games
* character development: skills, flaws, wants/goals, secrets, backstories
* creating dialogue 
* Hero's Journey Story Structure: 
 - Ordinary World setting
 - Call to Adventure
 - Portal/Entry into the Special World
 - 3 or more Tests
 - false victory
 - separation & betrayal
 - false defeat
 - final climax / the hero rises (combine original w/ new skills)
 * ways to build worry, suspense & mystery
 * Editing the "Worst Paragraph in the World" 
   (grammar, spelling, punctuation, word choice, clarity)
She read her story to the rest of the class, plus parents and friends, and did a great job.  It's an awesome story about kids who are spies and involved in some high tech secret adventures.

Tales of Olympus

The semester-end musical, Tales of Olympus, was awesome; really fun to see the kids having such a good time together, singing in different genres, dancing, and acting.  The first photos below are the girls' opening shots, followed by group shots of the musical in progress, then photos with Grandpa (Abuela was there too, but missed the photo shoot).  K and G played sisters, two of the nine muses (Calliope and Erato).  Our appreciation to San Francisco Shakespeare for such great teachers.

Science Class: Skulls

Our third class on skulls and in this photo, the kids were learning what it would be like to have eyes set in the sides of their heads like some animals do.  From there we moved to identifying skulls, using the techniques they'd learned so far to discern between a porcupine, coyote, racoon, jack rabbit, porcupine, bobcat, and black bear.  Pretty cool.

And, for my own records, a synopsis of the class:

Week 1:  We created a map of our teeth, using mirrors, and then did an exercise called "Chew, Bite, Chomp" in which we tried to eat different items (dried fruit/bread; persimmons/apples, nuts) with awareness about which teeth we were using.  This helped identify the difference between incisors, canines, and molars, including their use.  Doing the exercise first on our own teeth helped to create a comparison when we looked at other skulls and the different/similar ways that animals use their teeth.

Week 2:  Discussed the differences between herbivores, omnivores, and carnivores and specifically compared the skulls of a jack rabbit, black bear, and bobcat, which fit into each category.  We listed all of the things that teeth can do, which was fun (chatter?  gnash?  sever?) and then began looking at eye placement by doing two exercises in which we examined the benefits of having two eyes instead of one (perspective). 

Week 3:  We started again with our own vision, plotting it on a worksheet after examining it by having the kids walk in a circle around each other outside.  They then got to use really cool glasses from the Cal Academy that changed their field of vision from a predator (eyes in front) to many forms of prey (eyes on the side, allowing rear vision).  We then re-examined their fields of vision, replotting them.  Finally, we did a challenge with new and unidentified skulls: to use what they had learned about eye location and teeth types to identify specific Northern California animal skulls:  a racoon, a porcupine, a coyote... plus the black bear, bobcat, and jackrabbit.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Imagination Station: Greek Gods

Awesome fun!  They were Greek gods, from left to right:  Erato, Aphrodite, Iris, Calliope, Zeus, and Ares.  They interviewed each other with a lot of humor, enthusiasm, and knowledge about the Greek gods.

The whole show can be found here:  Imagination Station:  Greek Gods

Camera Man #3

Monday, November 16, 2015

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Ears Pierced!

Nervous all week.... and in the chair
Over quickly!  Admiring herself...
Cousin time!  Pierced ears the same week...

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Dog Therapy

G launched a pet care business this fall and her first major client offered three weeks of care when they went to Europe.  Unfortunately, the day they left, the poor dog got into a car accident and broke his collarbone.  He can't climb stairs and shouldn't play too rambunctiously, so they made other arrangements for his care and we are just helping, going to visit daily (more or less).  When Charles was in the hospital and in rehab, they had dog therapy - people with nice loving dogs to come in and make patients happier simply by petting the dogs.  Now we're on the other end of that scenario, acting as people therapists and providing petting therapy to Sirius.  The girls are so sweet with him and he clearly knows that they are here to visit him, which is cute.

It is a book about dogs and their adventures; the girls take turns reading it to Sirius.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Giants Geometry

The perfect class - we thought - for K.  Math (geometry) described at the middle school level and taking place at the Giant's ballpark.  Maybe I should have been suspicious that the "STEM" word was used - more and more that seems to be a marketing ploy (and one that I admit works) than actual in-depth learning.  In this case, the presenter was really good, but the materials were seriously more on the preschool/ early elementary level, identifying geometric shapes, calculating areas, naming angles as obtuse or acute, and describing triangles according to the length of their sides (equilateral, isolceles, or scalene).  Disappointing.

On the other hand, the tour was super fun and interesting and our guide for that was also engaging.  Oddly, those on the tour with us seemed to hold no particular interest in baseball, so what seemed really exciting to me (standing on the field, sitting in the visitor's dugout) didn't seem to hold the same magic to others.  Still, K and I had fun and that's what counts.  :-)

Looking SE from the upper level - gorgeous!

Looking E from the upper level - more gorgeousness!

Touching Barry Bonds' bat (cool!)

Looking at the visitor's practice pitching area

Inside the visitor's dug out

On the field...

Monday, November 9, 2015

Imagination Station Planning

The team watching a movie that G created, deciding whether to use it for the next show.  Love their collaboration, creativity, and consideration that they show toward each other's ideas.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Puck Love

Puckie love...  I was surprised that he didn't object when the girls decided to make him cozy under the covers.  He demands a lot of love and gives a lot too... he's such a sweet blessing for all of us.  (Thanks again, Aunt Terry!)


Saturday, November 7, 2015


I love watching this kid play.  Her team always seems to have a lot of fun both at games and at practice.  They play well too...


Friday, November 6, 2015

STEAM Carnival

We signed up early for this event because it sounded so cool:  Science, Technology, Engineering, Art. and Math in one awesome carnival event.  Unfortunately, it was pricey and yet lacked much in the way of actual learning.  There were a few exceptions and some fun things to do, but overall it was super disappointing, demonstrating excellence in marketing rather than excellence in STEAM learning.  It even promoted new cartoons and a new movie, which seems the antithesis of getting out there and doing some hands-on learning.  The girls came up with a new acromyn meaning on the way home, "Systematically Taking Everyone's Available Money."  Sigh....

G trying virtual reality technology

Probably the best actual learning event: a cool robot demonstration from UCLA students

K trying a system that helps you learn how to play the guitar
Despite our overall disappointment, given the choice we'd do it again, if only to see Jeremy, K's favorite teacher (Shakespeare) of all time.  He's (obviously) multi-talented and used to motivate the kids to learn lines by promising to balance a chair on his nose...

A fun slack line.  But learning?

Again, super fun and a neat photograph of G navigating a course bounded by bright rubber bands stretched across it.  Useful should you need gymnastics to break into a high-security bank?  That's all I could think of in terms of relevance... looks like a scene from "Leverage."