Sunday, October 30, 2016

Happy Halloween!

Prepping for a wonderful family party on Saturday, plus a trial run for trick or treating!

They had some makeup help; thanks, Aurore!

Elphaba, or whatever witch the play requires..

Friday, October 28, 2016

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Math Circle: Mobius Strip and its Hexa-Flexagon Connection

From our teacher:

Today we worked on three experiments for Mobius strip (band).
1) Showing it has only one side: We compared regular strip and mobius strip by drawing a continuous line on (one of) the surface(s) for each strip. 
2) Cut a mobius strip in half to see what happens.
3) Cut a mobius strip at 1/3 distance from the right edge to see what happens.

We connected the math involved in this to three sided hexa-flexagon by discussing mobius strip like surface obtained by rotating one end of the paper strip three times (540 degrees) instead of one time (180 degrees).

We looked at two dimensional projections ( pictures) of twisted bands made with 180 and 540 degrees twists. I am attaching the pictures.

Then we made three sided flexagons. The goal here was not only should kids be able to make a 3 sided hexa flexagon without directions, but should grasp the 540 degree twisting that leads to the flexagon. 

Those who want to explore this further should see what happens when they make strips involving 2 or 3 or 4 or 5 twists. When do they get two surfaces? When one? Why so?

Monday, October 24, 2016

Learning German: G's Pen Pal Responds!

Very exciting!  She had another letter written in German and in the mail the same evening; thanks to much help from Aurore.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

St. Dominic's Annual YAG Reunion and Mass

We all look forward to this annual get-together with old friends. I didn't get many photos, but the one I wish I had was the Mass itself, with Father Tony presiding. We all met him when he was the organizer for the YAG group and when he finally left, it was to become a priest, much to everyone's surprise (including him). He clearly belongs in this vocation and it was an honor to see him celebrate Mass and a joy to be with so many friends who will travel to sing, praise, pray, and worship together. Plus it is just wonderful to catch up with everyone.

Perhaps the brightest unexpected joy is that the girls look forward to this day as much as we do! G had to leave for a volleyball game and she was so disappointed to miss the play time with friends of our old friends whom she only sees once a year (unless we are lucky). The kids enjoy each other's company and immediately arrive and gravitate toward one another - so awesome.

The girls and Puck with (Sister) "Just Diane"

K with more old friends

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Sunset by G

Gorgeous! And G caught it on camera. From a backyard in Oakland....

Shakespeare's Henry V

A smaller class this week, but a favorite teacher was substituting for the regular one and that made K happy (though she likes her regular one too... it's just that "Phil is awesome.")  Here he is explaining the reasons for the pronunciation of certain words and how you can tell from the iambic pentameter how to pronounce them, a topic she'd been complaining hadn't been covered in previous classes.  She's got some great lines as the French Constable and we had a fascinating post-class discussion about the differences between various film productions of Henry V and the political reasons that Sir Lawrence Olivier's Henry V is so much more patriotic than Kenneth Branagh's version.  Need to watch/rewatch...

Friday, October 21, 2016

Book Club: Pride and Prejudice

Debate class and soccer kept us from attending the discussion, but we did have our own.   In the end, the girls didn't like it:  "a bunch of teenyboppers who think about nothing but boys."  Viewing the plot from a modern feminist perspective does weigh sadly:  despite the beautiful writing, moral dilemmas, and development of kind and ethical characters, the kids are right about the plot and that says a lot about the sad limitations of women's lives historically.

Reminds me too that I recently read "Longbourn," by Jo Baker, which tells the tale of Pride and Prejudice from the perspective of the servants.  A great read!

Earlier this year we read "Wuthering Heights" and then I read "Nelly Dean," by Alison Case, which is similarly about a servant in the house also a great read, adding depth to an understanding of the original.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Math Circle Updates

This week: They worked on making hexaflexagons of two types. Students were allowed to choose between a simple easy and a complex lengthy flexagon. This link was provided by our teacher and shows how it is done:

 Last week they worked on two puzzle type problems:

 1) Analyzing a real life situation for fusing five pieces of chains of same length (4 links each) to make a circular chain. They discussed the optimal plan and then figured out how to generalize this to any number of chain pieces. What should be the length of each piece? From that they generalized even further to pieces of variable length and the optimal strategy for that situation.

 2) To encourage students to visualize 3-D polyhedra, they worked on a problem related to fusing faces. They fused two cubes, two (regular) tetrahedron, and then one (regular) square pyramid with one (regular) tetrahedron. After students agreed upon the answers, they looked at 2-D projections of these polyhedra. In the end, they talked about the symmetry of a (regular) tetrahedron and ways to work with a tetrahedron.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Soccer games!  Great team, great fun, great kid.  Love the first photo especially for her intense stare!  These were all taken by the team photographer - thank you Lara!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Drama Class

Learning about acting, singing, and Chinese mythology... here she is a Chinese dragon in rehearsal (usually wise and kind, in this case being attacked by a tiger and so more vicious).

Up close

With friends

Monday, October 17, 2016

Sunday, October 16, 2016


G is taking a "mindfulness" class and she really doesn't like it.  The teacher is strict about how to do things, G doesn't like being told what to do.  Plus she thinks that the class is boring and I hear a lot of sarcastic comments about how dull it is.

So, I was surprised one night when she decided to offer a Mindfulness class for us!  I was distracted by something else, but overheard most of the 50 minute class that she facilitated for Aurore and Charles and it was phenomenal.  She stayed in control the entire time and walked them through some really interesting and relevant exercises, some from her class and some that she invented.  My favorite was when she asked them to hold a stuffed animal, stare into its eyes, reflect, then tell the group ("if you feel safe doing so") what it was saying to you.  The results were actually poignant and at first she thought they were funny, but then later said, "oh, but what if that wasn't kidding.  That could be sad...."  She's quite insightful, both in relation to facilitating this class so effectively for adults and in re-imagining a class that she dislikes so intently so that she feels more control.  This wonderful kid continues to impress me...

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Green Gulch Newts and Snake

These are so awesome, they deserve their own post.  First, the newts:


Then, the snake we spotted on the way back to the car:

Not so happy with being held after a while...

With that tongue matching K's shirt, one might suspect the snake of being a Giant's fan!