Thursday, September 28, 2017

Praying Mantis Surprise

Months ago, we released our latest egg sack hachlings, putting so many in the Poplar Tulip trees in front of the house that I felt certain we'd see some of them again.  But we didn't, not even one.  Until today, when the kids rushed at me, excited, reporting that they'd found one.  I didn't expect it to be SO BIG!  Did it eat every aphid on the tree and each of its siblings too?  WOWZA!  The science geek in me emerged big time - I couldn't get enough of him/her!  The girls decided it was a "she" and named her "Ariel."

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Tempest Roles and Rehearsals

The kids got their roles and lines this week:  K is Prospero and G is Ariel.  And, immediately, they are on stage together, in a role in which they are in conflict. Hamlet/Gertrude all over again!  It's fun to see them working together so well...

Monday, September 25, 2017

Ahwahnee Visits

And we love having her.  I want to say that Puck especially loves having his sister visit, but I think that the girls are just as happy that she's here.  She's so affectionate...

Time to get up, girls!

During a music lesson
She begs with her whole head

Saturday, September 23, 2017

African American Shakespeare's a Midsummer Night's Dream

I've been wanting to attend one of their performances for a long time; the shows always look intriguing (both Shakespeare and non-Shakespeare).  Finally the timing worked out!  We were really excited to see one of our favorite plays performed with a West Indies theme and it didn't disappoint.

The location, in the Taube hall of the War Memorial Building, was just beautiful - a relatively small and lovely modern theater.  We got to sit very close to the front and it was almost like being part of the action.  The sets included lovely drop-down curtains that enhanced the storytelling and overall theme.

Puck is usually our favorite role (K's first Shakespeare role and of course, our dog's name!)  We've seen "sexy Puck" (at NDNU), contemplative Puck (one screen version) and other versions where the character is more mischievous.  Though I have my favorite (of course), this one was inspiring because he was so different - a little creepy and reminiscent of voodoo mythology.  I saw that one reviewer called him the "Beetlejuice Puck" and that seems to capture him, sort-of.  All of the main roles were well done, especially Lysander, Bottom, and Hermia.  Our favorite actor, hands down, was the woman who played Helena.  She was energetic, silly, tragic, comic, geeky, sexy, and hilarious, all at once.

The 'play within the play' is rarely my favorite part; this one stretched out a bit too long. The acting was great, but having that performed absent the stage presence of the two couples made it seem disjointed.  I prefer productions where they all end on the stage together.  But that's just me!

We universally disliked using puppets and recorded voices for the fairies.  It made them seem creepy and transferred the scenes from a theme of West Indies nature to something more like a horror show.

Still, we all had a great time; so glad that we got to go.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Marin Shakespeare's Love's Labor Lost

Our eighth year of this tradition of visiting Marin Shakespeare for one of their student matinees.  This trip didn't disappoint.  I'd never seen this play before, never read it or studied it, and (admittedly) didn't even look up the plot to pre-dicuss with the girls (see previous post about Mom being a mess).  But oh, we loved it!  It was so hysterically funny that at one point G was laughing so much that the people in front of us turned around to look at her.  I was laughing too, but hearing her laughter made me laugh even more.  So much awesomeness in costumes, silly accents, silly dancing, plays on words, and more.  Perhaps the funniest bit was when the King, who had been faking a Russian accent badly, forgot his accent and switched to a southern one.  Totally, utterly hysterical and just what I needed after a day that had started off with a lot of little irritations.

As a bonus, we ran into one of the girls from K's summer baseball team, the one that did so well.  She and her Dad recognized us and came over to say hi.  It was funny to see another kid so much like K - I told her on the way home, "she's like a blond, straight-haired you."  No nonsense, somewhat androgynous in dress and appearance, a little shy but (unlike me at that age) not debilitatingly so.  Nice to see her, celebrate her ongoing baseball success, and remember how awesome all of the players were on that team.  I had my favorite, of course, but it was fun to cheer for all.

Great day!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

US Revolutionary War History Class Begins

And what an awesome class it is, mostly 10-13 year olds, grounded in AP History prep materials designed through Stanford University's "Think Like A Historian" concept.  The kids were totally engaged and I'm excited because I think that they will finally be more challenged.  I've had the hardest time finding teachers who can find the balance between the introductory/craft-type elementary school curriculum and the hard-core scholarship that is at a college level.  We're doing two AP-prep classes now and one adult-level government class and those finally feel right - challenging without being so heavily into scholarship that they are beyond boring.  Happy now and feeling so fortunate to have an excellent teacher who is also super-bright herself; I think that makes a huge difference!

Monday, September 18, 2017

When Mom Is A Mess

I tried so hard to be organized.  One morning, three sports, two kids, one class... what could go wrong?  First off, most of G's volleyball games conflict with her soccer games, which is such a shame, having to choose.  But they volleyball schedule came out WAY in advance; the soccer schedule a few days ahead of time.  And they volleyball team only has six players, so if one isn't there, they forfeit, whereas soccer has so many that some sit out every quarter.  So she chose volleyball.

My job is the back-office stuff.  Check the schedules.  Make sure laundry is done and uniforms are clean.  Get breakfast ready.  Make sure everyone has an alarm set and knows where to go and when. Leave instructions.  Then I take off to teach (ya know, the paid job we all rely on).

For a 10:00 game, she should be there by 9:40, but they walked and arrived early, at 9:25.  Dutifully, they texted me that they had arrived and said that no one else was there.  Surreptitiously, while teaching, I check the text and am relieved.  Stage one, check.

15 minutes later I quickly text again:  everyone there?  The response was a surprise:  no.  Uh oh. That's when I checked the reminder and the color drained from my face - wrong location!  I send the coach an email, not having her phone number, still trying to teach.  She doesn't get it.  Instead I get a phone call from an unknown number that I assume must be hers.  I can't take it while teaching and so instead respond with a text, "I'm teaching."

I get, "hi, where's G."

Um, "at our parish gym."

Response, which I unfortunately now expected, "we are at [another gym, not in our town, I'm not even sure where it is.]"

Me:  "So sorry."

Response:  "Did you forget?"

Me, feeling rotten and like an idiot:  "Uh, misread schedule."

Response:  "We just forfeited."

Me:  :-(

Then, soon:  "Well, bring her now, at least she can scrimmage with us."

Me:  "I can't.  I'm teaching and she's on foot."

Shoot.  Two games missed (this one and the soccer game she skipped for this one).  She then skipped walking to soccer photos, saying, "I didn't feel like it."  And then K missed her basketball practice, first because I couldn't get out of class in time and then - something, finally, not my fault! - because there was a fire at the gym.  (A fire at the gym!  Things are definitely too chaotic when you are relieved because there is a fire at the gym!!)

I got home from class, sent a long email apology to the team, fell asleep, and woke up too many hours later to a nice email from the coach telling me about the times that she messed up various schedules.  I realized just how bad I'd felt when reading her kindness made me burst into tears.

I still feel rotten.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Thinkering Day One

Now starting its eighth year, Thinkering began with a drama class led by teaching artists with SF Shakespeare.  Awesome guys, awesome kids, awesome first day.  11 kids, most aged 10-13, and a ton of fun.  Love this photo, too, with all of its fun and silliness!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

A Reason to Remember

Impressed:  A Reason to Remember, a traveling exhibit developed by the Institute for Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, to the Library from August 1st to September 29th.  The exhibit presents victims and survivors of the Holocaust through the stories of five Jewish families living in Roth, Germany.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Say What?

The girls both bought chocolate frogs in Hogsmeade, but were taken aback by the packaging:

A frog shaped like chocolate?  This doesn't sound vegetarian!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

An awesome trip; G said that it was the best day of her life and the rest of us didn't disagree.  We were among the first to enter, with K bouncing up and down - even I got a bit excited/emotional.  How utterly awesome to see a beloved book series come to life!  The one main ride was an incredible experience and K said that the whole trip would have been worth it even if we had had to stand in line all day just for that ride.  But we didn't, lines were short, and we got to see everything in the park multiple times, plus ride "The Forbidden Journey" SIX TIMES.  The girls also got picked at "Ollivanders" to have their wands selected and the wizard told them that he could "feel the strong connection between them."  Oh yeah!