Monday, February 27, 2017

The Secret Garden, The Musical

Take a favorite book in musical form, add amazing vocal performers, bring along Abuela and Grandpa, and the result was a wonderful afternoon admiring the singers and enjoying the performance.  Well done (as usual) NDNU Musical Arts Department under the direction of the amazing Debra Lambert!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Religious Ed Class: Learning about Sister Dorothy Stang

Sister Roseanne Murphy, S.N.D., came to our class this past week and spoke primarily about Sister Dorothy Stang.  Sister Roseanne is the author of a book about Sister Dorothy called, "Martyr of the Amazon" and she showed the class parts of a 28 minute video on Sister Dorothy called, "The Student, The Nun, and the Amazon."   The kids were silent and engrossed throughout her talk: Dorothy's story is powerful and fascinating and to see the video clips of her drew us all in. Her personality seemed to be a combination of sheer determination and absolute cheerfulness and that makes her intriguing to watch on screen.  Plus, of course, her work was important, speaking up for those who had no voice and living her life intentionally working to empower others. In addition to her humanitarian focus, we learned about her faith literally in the face of death and her call to protect the environment.  Sister Roseanne was moved to tears when talking with our class and of course that made me cry, too.

We were honored to have Sister Roseanne with us and now have ideas to add to our Lenten reading plan...

Thursday, February 23, 2017

To Be Or Not To Be...

... is not K's question anymore... she's Hamlet and G is Queen Gertrude.  Both are thrilled and had such fun with a "Shakespeare-Off" and lots of "Funny Shakespeare" with their class.  To hear Romeo's lines said as a "Valley Girl" or as a Country-and-Western singer was beyond hysterical.

Laughing hysterically after "Valley Girl Romeo"
Highlighting lines

An afternoon etymology class:  this is a giant vinegaroon and they also learned a lot about peacock spiders

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Queen of Fractions

Well, if not Queen, at least she's competent... and proud to be moving on to decimals.  Well done, G!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Basketball Season Ends

Great first season for G; K's party was later.  I love basketball... wish the season was longer!  Now onto baseball and track...

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Monday, February 13, 2017

Baseball Happy

When I picked her up from baseball, a little early because I had to get to class, she had just been up at bat.  "Good hit!" was the comment I heard from other kids on her team.  She gathered her things and said, "gotta go" and from across the field I heard repeated calls of, "bye, K!"

This was her third day of practice in a row.  On the way back to the car she told me about how happy she was with her team this season:  "everyone seems like really good players and there aren't any jerks on the team."

A few minutes later, sitting down next to me in the car, she looked over happily and said, "I love baseball!" Me?  I love it when she's this happy....

Morning Hike

When I left, it was barely light and I could see the moon through a thick haze of fog. The fog cleared on the ridge I was on, though, and left me with a sunrise scene over valleys still thick with it. A lovely way to start the day!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Baseball and Gender Issues

Yesterday, K got an invitation to an all-expense paid trip to a baseball tournament: flights, rooms, meals, registration, uniform, tickets to a Major League game, and other incidentals all included.  Oh my gosh!  The offer had me at "all expense paid trip;" add baseball to someone with her passion for that game and one would think it would be a no-brainer.  But... the tournament is only for girls and she refuses to play if tournament rules engage in gender discrimination.*

As I've noted before, there are all-boys tournaments and leagues, including some who have blatant "no girls" policies.  In fact, there are ways that even the overtly inclusive Little League groups could do more to promote true inclusion.  The reality of even partially discriminatory situations has meant that similarly situated boys on her Little League teams have more opportunities to play ball throughout the year than she does, which poses a disadvantage every year as she sits out for months while some of her teammates and competitors hone new skills.  She knows that is wrong, but maintains that all-girls' tournaments are equally wrong.  I respect her uncompromising ethics, but...

I do love watching her play.  I worry sometimes that without some of the advantages of playing in the leagues that exclude girls, it will be more challenging for her to be competitive in what will likely be otherwise all-boys divisions as she gets older.  It doesn't help that most of the players have parents who can help them practice while she's got two baseball-disabled parents (one who has physical limitations due to the stroke and one who is disabled by a fear of hard fast things flying at my face**). So I threw major bribes into the deal.  No go:  the girl is unyielding, intransigent, resolute, obstinate, and adamant. Erg! 

 * She turned down a similar opportunity earlier this spring - a chance for four months of coaching, a flight, hotels, a tournament, uniform, etc., all for a negligible price.  Ugh!

* Also, for the record, I found out that this tournament would allow boys, though as far as I have seen none have signed up.  That didn't convince her, as clearly their intent is to promote girls in the sport.  Their mission is one of inclusivity, but the current composition of baseball drives that's tournament's (admirable) focus on encouraging girls.

** My fear of fast, flying objects was enhanced this week when another baseball mom told me that she got a concussion when trying to play with her son.  As I told her, K started batting so hard and so well so early that by age three, I knew that we were in danger of window breakage if I kept playing with her on our porch and had to limit my pitching to our trips to the park...  I did try again recently, but really, I'm hopeless, even with the best intentions.  Makes me all the more impressed with her, though!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Rainy Days

We've had some lovely rainy days at home in the last few weeks as K strums her guitar and we read together.  In this picture, they were both playing, which was lovely.  I've never once asked them to practice any instrument; K in particular seems to have a natural love and she doesn't "practice," she just plays.  This photo of the two of them is one that I had to snatch from another room surreptitiously, as K is camera shy about playing (actually, now that I look at the photo, I suspect it is because she was trying out the pink guitar that her sister picked up when a friend was giving it away).  Here, they are working together composing music and accompanying songs of their own creation.  (A little bird told me yesterday that when I'm not home, even more songs come out, more original works that sound just delightful, deep, and fascinating.  I'm hoping that I get to hear them soon.)

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Homework and Spring Curriculum

Lots of homework this semester!  Some images of the girls working hard on vocabulary, poetry, mythology, world history, and more...

Our studies this semester:

Vocabulary (two classes)
Ancient History (inc. food)
History of Science/Evolution?Biology/Genetics
Shakespeare ('Hamlet's Ghost,' through Harvard)
Math (pre-algebra with physics)
Post-Renaissance world history
Shakespeare (acting)
South American history (explorers and colonization)
Big History Project
Religious Education (Old Testament, Sacraments, Liturgical Calendar)

Ancient History (including a history of food)
History of Science/Evolution/Biology/Genetics
Math (decimals)
Post-Renaissance World History
Big History Project
Language Arts
Shakespeare (acting)
South American History (colonization, exploration)
Religious Education

Entrepreneurial endeavors continue as well...

(We're kind of overdoing the history, but it is my favorite subject and when opportunities arise, sometimes you just take them!)

Monday, February 6, 2017

Proposal to the Burlingame City Council

One of K's classes noticed that the City of Burlingame does not have a flag.  They did an enormous amount of research on flag design, presented their ideas and a tentative design to the Mayor last Fall, and revised the design and their presentation according to her feedback.  This time they presented to the entire City Council and did a good job, according to observers.  The council members, as is typical of municipal government, thanked them for their presentation and said that they would consider the proposal.  I'm not sure how satisfying that was, but she seemed pleased with her own work and that's what's important.

With her class, presenting. (The council member at the far right looks less than impressed... hmmm....)

The new proposed design


Friday, February 3, 2017


G makes a free throw; got her first game basket at this week's game!  Lots of hard work that looks like a lot of fun, too.  Well done, kiddo!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Anatomy Continues

This week they studied the digestive system.  Doing this work through the lens of physical examination helps bring more abstract learning to life!  How lucky we are to have this class...