Tuesday, October 31, 2017


From a great party on Sunday evening to a trick-or-treat slumber party, Halloween seems to have been a huge success for this Identity Thief and this Ariel-from-The-Tempest.  Trick-or-treating is always fun as we wander in the crowds and the dark and I hear the kids greeted over and over by other kids whom I either don't know or can't recognize.  Sports, classes, and more... they have quite a community of people they know.  But, in fairness, I ran into at least two students while we were out too, so the community isn't just theirs...
Identity Thief

Ariel, from The Tempest

"Eyeball" treats for the Sunday party

Selfie Shot

Normal shot

Candy Central

Monday, October 30, 2017


K now does two basketball leagues:  one that is co-ed and for kids 12-13 and one that is all girls and for kids 11-12.  Good experience, both!  These were some photos from her co-ed league (co-ed apparently means, "all boys but K.") in which she catches the ball, pivots, and shoots.  The photographer did not do as good a job shooting the photo as the player did shooting the ball so you can't quite tell but it did go in.  Again and again.  After that game she got recruited, again, for another league.  And at the next day's game a local school's baseball commissioner spent part of the game telling me that K should be aiming for college basketball and all the elements of her playing that are "that good."  Unfortunately, her enthusiasm is pretty narrowly focused on baseball; basketball is just something to do until that starts again... sigh!

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Herpetology Comic

I guess comics are a way to enforce learning!  Pretty cool.  This is one that G did for her herpetology class:

Saturday, October 28, 2017


We were thrilled to go see 1776!  It is a musical based on the actual letters and memoirs of America's founders.  As the program states, "some of the show's musical numbers illustrate why American independence was such a thorny problem." Included is a narrative that illustrates the economic ties that all of the colonies had to slavery in the forms of a song that "is a powerful indictment of our nation's greatest weakness."

It takes something pretty boring - a bunch of men debating whether to declare independence - and makes the bickering funny, the process poignant, and the personalities both irritating and heart rending. It addresses slavery and shows just how difficult it was to leave that question for an inevitable future conflict.  Knowing the future bloodshed, we were left with a strong sense of just how agonizing this must have been and the historic "what if they had prevailed" question emerged in our post-show conversations.

I was impressed and the girls loved it too.  PLUS, a lot of the male characters were played by women, which was awesome.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Soccer Girl!

I've missed too many games this year, conflicts with work.  She seems to have a really great team this year - nice coaches, great kids, strong athletes.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

US History: The Battle of Bunker Hill and Primary Source Projects

Mapping a battle is always interesting; in addition, the kids spent time with their groups working on projects.  K is investigating attitudes of the Mayflower passengers toward Native Americans.  She found a reference to concerns that they shouldn't go to the New World out of respect for those already there and arguments to that perspective; now they are digging deeper.  G is working with a group to assess what John Hanson, the first US President after the revolution to serve a full (one year) term felt about the development of the Constitution.  Also a lot of work!

I love this!  The historical aspect is fascinating, but even more I think it is helping them to develop the critical thinking skills that we all need in a time of "fake news" in which too many of us (on both sides of any political divide) build our perspectives based on biased headlines, not original sources.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Hamilton Class

It is nice when I can find classes with overlapping topics - it reinforces learning.  K has been taking a course on Hamilton, learning about the production and about the history.  This was a cool assignment - to take one of the characters and make a comic out of it.  I love new ways of creative learning (even if they are just "new" to me! :-)

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Annual St. Dominic's YAG Reunion and Mass

We look forward to this all year; it was great to see so many friends and to celebrate Mass together on a beautiful day.  We missed those who couldn't make it... but hopefully will see everyone at some point *before* next year's reunion!

Friday, October 20, 2017

US History: Guest Lecturer Explains the Battles of the Revolution

Dr. Larry Lujan came to our class and described the various battles of the Revolutionary War to the kids, with marvelous hand-painted figures.  Special emphasis on the battles of Lexington and Concord.  The kids were mesmerized. (Oh, who am I kidding?  Me too...)

The Tempest Rehearsals

Lots of fun...

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Egg Experiment to Demonstrate Permeability

Very, very cool.  We started a second round...

Original egg on left; egg with shell that was dissolved in red wine vinegar on right.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Sunday Surprises

After a great Religious Ed class (yes, great, all 34 kids deeply engaged, thank you Jesus!) we took off as fast as we could to a surprise 50th birthday party.  A beautiful day and a fun celebration for a really generous and caring friend.  The best part was when the birthday friend saw her adult daughter there and burst into tears of joy, as she had thought that she was away at college.  I cried too! 

Then we were off again, with one intent in mind and then a sudden inspiration changed our course entirely.  We ended up at the Berkeley Vivarium, an awesome store, and surprised my Mom with a late birthday/early Christmas gift - a new box turtle.  She loves her turtles and was thrilled, as somehow I knew she should be (G commented that I had previously said that you can't just buy another person a pet - it is too much of a commitment - and she's right, of course, but when this turtle came out of her shell and was so unafraid and friendly, I knew that my Mom would love her and I was right.  Hurrah!)  We left the turtle happily eating everything she gave her - quite a change from other turtles who are more select in their diets (I had one in college that only ate cheese, tofu, raw hamburger, and worms).

This snake was trying hard to convince K to bring him home!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Pumpkin Patch

A quick fun trip in between so many other things that seem to be clogging this semester with busyness.  The weather was still smoky from the terrible fires just north of us, but less so than in previous days and the pumpkins are always so pretty.

I want to try to make these - so pretty!


Thursday, October 12, 2017


I snuck in late to get this photo; they usually stop in irritation when I try and that disrupts the lesson, so I don't make the attempt.  But their teacher is always commenting on how serious they are and how his time with them is his favorite hour of his work week, so I couldn't help trying to capture their quiet working intensity.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017


G took these photos of K's game; she may have a career as a sports photographer, if she decides not to be a marine biologist/engineer/architect/etc.  The game was fun, too.  K's team is undefeated!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Let's Get the Rhythm

We finally got our hands on this documentary, which shows the power and prevalence of girl's poetry, as expressed through hand-clapping games around the world.  Fascinating!  And totally fun to see the three of us featured in it.  I'd forgotten that we'd done this until a colleague stopped me on campus and said, "hey, I saw you in a movie last night!" 

(Hint:  we were only in it for about ten seconds and it wasn't for my incredible hand-clapping skills, but for hand-clapping as an example of bonding time with young kids.  I do remember a few games from childhood - there must be something about the rhyming and the clapping that embeds them in your memory- but this documentary inspired me to want to learn more.)

Friday, October 6, 2017

US History: Stamp Act

Learning about trade between England and it's American colonies in the 1700s... (such a great class, challenging and getting the kids to think critically about historic and contemporary events).