Monday, April 29, 2019

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Bake Sale to Support Mission in South Sudan

Last class of the year!  Now the countdown to ending other classes begins...

This wrapped up an interesting and very full year.  We had an elaborate "Saints Festival" in the fall, an ongoing "Random Acts of Catholics" theme, and a memorable Seder meal in which we helped recall Christ's family traditions and understand more fully the genesis of the Last Supper.  We introduced an international service theme, with students volunteering to prepare food for families in Haiti, learning about poverty in Guatemala, hearing from young people who are dedicating themselves to a year of service, and examining economic challenges that exist for individuals and families here in the Bay Area. Underlying each theme was the message of God's love, what it means to utilize your unique charisms (gifts from the Holy Spirit), and the kids' sense of agency about bringing about a better world.

As our final project, the kids decided to do a bake sale and raise money for Sister Carolyn Buhs' mission in South Sudan.  Sister Carolyn is a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur who spoke to our class when she was here on medical leave earlier this year.  She works at a teaching college in South Sudan, which is one of the world's newest countries and one where conflict, lack of infrastructure, and poverty are serious challenges.  The kids threw themselves into marketing and advertising ideas, baked up a storm, and then did a great job pricing effectively and getting a lot of customers to buy in bulk.  They targeted the parents who were coming to pick up their kids from classes and managed, in about 25 minutes, to make $332!  I'm super proud of the kids (including G!), who hopefully learned/reinforced that their efforts make a difference and that they are capable of bringing about change for good in the world.

Of the 30+ kids in the class, these four volunteered to do the pricing and selling.  I gave them full  authority to make decisions about pricing and negotiate deals to sell in bulk.  They did a great job!  

Monday, April 22, 2019

Pitching Again

It's been a few years and I know she doesn't feel confident about it, but it was nice to see her trying, cool to see her strike a few players out:

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Happy Easter! Family Celebrations and Harry Potter themed Scavenger Hunt

We recently found a photo of my great grandmother with this cake.  That's a lot of generations - the girls' great, great grandmother!   (The photo was probably take in the 1950s, when she was in her 60s.)

Up past midnight planning.  Then home to make breakfast, but after I made it, they wanted the Treasure Hunt first.  This year I decided to make it Harry Potter themed.

We started with a question about what Easter and the Harry Potter story have in common.  (J.K. Rowling once said that if you know she is a Christian, you know how the Harry Potter story will end.)  That took but a moment of thought and they grabbed book seven and thumbed to the narrative in which Harry's last horcrux is destroyed.  There, they found:

Clue 2:  Expecto Patronum!  Hm... brief thought.  Chocolate?  Dementors?  Then "a stag!" and they looked at a decorative reindeer that holds cards on our china cabinet.  Yep!

Clue 3:  Draco Dormiens Nunquam Titillandus. They didn't even pause, but rushed to the poster in their room of the Hogwarts crest ("Never tickle a sleeping dragon," which, incidentally, has become my motto for "stop bothering your sister.")

Clue 4:  The Peverall brothers.  Again, a moment of thought and then, "the Deathly Hallows;" immediately looking for G's necklace.  Sure enough...

Clue 5:  A riddle.  "What can fly without wings." This one they quickly googled and found that the answer was "time."  (Cheating?  Not if the rules don't prohibit it.)  They rushed to look for G's "time turner" necklace and found the clue behind a nearby clock.

Clue 6:  A quote from Hagrid in the first book:  "Ill get yer an owl.  All the kids want owls, they're dead useful.  Carry yer mail an' everthing."  Not even a brief pause:  "The mailbox!"  And they rushed outside...

Clue 7:  "Harry's original Dursley bedroom."  Ah!  The cupboard under the stairs!"  We have a storage space at our landing and they found another clue behind a photo there.  Of course, they also stopped to let me know that Harry did not live under the stairs in all of the books, but I already knew that....

Clue 8:  "The boy who lived, come to die."  I thought that this was the hardest clue, but it took, literally, about three seconds and then there was no hesitation.  "The best line that wasn't in the books.  The next clue is with the videos."  Indeed!

Clue 9:  Quote from the books:  "Myrtle gave a tragic sob, rose up in the air, turned over, and dived headfirst..., splashing water all over them."  The toilet!

Clue 10:  Another quote:  Erised shows the most desperate desire of a person's heart, a vision that has been known to drive people mad."  The mirror!

Clue 11:  (Which obviously had to be read in the mirror:)  Platform 9 3/4.  This took them to a poster of the Hogwarts Express.

Clue 12:  Another quote "Harry was speeding toward the ground when the crowd saw him clap his hand to his mouth as though he was going to be sick.  He hit the field on all fours, coughed, and something gold fell into his hand."  The snitch!  They found a clue hidden near a snitch pendant.

Clue 13:  Nimbus 2000.  Too darn obvious - the next clue was taped to our broom.

Clue 14:  This one had to be decoded.  It said "What charm did Hermione use to pack her purple beaded bag?" and then certain letters in the answer were underlined.  Unfortunately, I made this too easy by leaving the answer there, so they could easily read "Eggs."  (That's what I get for prepping after midnight.)

Clue 15:  Eggs!  It's Easter and we have lots of decorated eggs around.  They found the clue under the ones in the living room:  "Have you used the Expectro Patronum charm yet?"  Not even a pause:  our wands!

Clue 16:  Final clue:  "What, other than books and clothes, did Hermione pack in her purple beaded bag?" This one actually stumped them for a few seconds.  Then, "oh, no... do we have to go to the garage?"  Yep, their baskets were with the camping equipment.

Anyway, I thought that this was cool - and I think they did too - but it was easier for them than I expected.  The "boy who lived, come to die!" clue was the one they did with the most surprising ease - perhaps they just think too much like me.    Three of the ideas came from this link and in my last minute prep I came across a lot more.  Maybe a Ravenclaw riddle theme next year!

Afterward, we finished prepping for dinner and drove to my parents' to have Easter dinner with family and friends.  Lovely day celebrating the resurrection of Christ and His message of hope and love.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Easter Eggs

Never too old to try to develop the skills needed for Ukrainian Easter Eggs.  G did all of the work setting up and cleaning up and put huge effort into some beautiful eggs.  I'm so impressed with her energy and diligence - she's such a wonderful, kind, energetic, creative person, intelligent, hard working person and she has so much perseverance.  She has great ideas and I know that when she says, "I have an idea...." I need to stop and listen.  I tell her all the time that she can do absolutely anything she wants in this world - she's got the determination and the work ethic and the intelligence and all of those attributes together make me certain that she will continue to be a force for good in this world.  I admire her so much (even with the "oh geez, not another picture" look on her face.  :-)  (K helped too and it was nice to see them working together.)

Friday, April 19, 2019

Good Friday

This was new to us, and a unique experience - a living, moving Stations of the Cross.  We started at Pier 39 and walked to Aquatic Park in San Francisco, stopping at various points while young people silently portraying Jesus and others acted out scenes from the Good Friday liturgy.  At each station, narrators added brief reflection commentary about current issues in our world that relate to the message of Christ, reminding us not to separate families, to respect life at all stages, to care for refugees and those in poverty.  It was beautifully done.  The 'icing on the cake' was that the whole thing was accompanied by a moving band on the back of a truck - great music - and even a police escort.  Fantastic to be joined by our friends Kathleen and Virginia, too!

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Baseball Begins

These photos are from her first game with the high school level league (preseason).  They don't have uniforms yet, just hats.  She's having fun and seems to be playing well.  She likes all of her coaches and says that they have been really helpful.  She's in two leagues and unfortunately games and practices sometimes conflict, but too much baseball isn't usually a problem for her. 

She had another game last night and talking to a mom, she asked, "which is your son?"  I said, "well, number 32 is my daughter."  She said, "Oh K; I love her.  She's great!"  Leaving, the coaches from the other team - from another town - all called her by name.  I looked questioningly at her - how do they know you?  She just shrugged - no idea.  Impresses me - maybe because for work I see so many students come through in just a few years - but I have sort-of reached my capacity for learning a lot of new names with both girls in multiple classes, in multiple activities, in multiple games...  To know the names of players on another league - impressive.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

San Francisco Ballet: Space Between

More nosebleed seats!  An amazing performance, really.  Three different short ballets, all very different. The dancing was incredible in all three.  The first had a very bland backdrop - nothing, really - and the dance itelf was supposed to be about male bonding.  We agreed that it looked like a parody of male bonding more than a reality - the dancing was wonderful, but the choreography almost awkward in that attempted portrayal.  The second was beautiful classical music, beautiful dancing.  Loved it, but it wasn't very memorable. The third was to horrible, screechy vocalized music and was described in the program as a "ballet rave."  The setting was utterly spectacular, costumes, set, lights, and mirrored floor.  The dancing was vibrant and unexpected and incredible.  In each the dancers seemed to defy gravity in every step, leaping and almost pausing in the air.  We should really go more often.  The nosebleed seats weren't too crazy expensive and it was fun.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Happy Birthday to K!

I love this awesome kid!   She's crazy smart, super funny, responsible, and kind.  Animals and little kids adore her.  Me, too.  I love that she tries to learn every line in Hamilton and in her pursuit of perfection wants to be quizzed on her knowledge.  She's affectionate, she's got a great sense of humor, and she loves to use her crack skills at logic to pick arguments about everything.  She's one of the smartest people I know, even if she doesn't have faith (yet) in her own academic skills.  This first year of high school academics has been a real challenge with two AP courses, two honors courses, five other courses and and we've had our rough moments, but she's persevered and learned a lot and I'm proud of her. 

When pregnant with her, I was filled with joy, and even though I loved her long before I got to hold her, that first moment of looking into her eyes was absolute bliss.  I'm deeply honored to get to be her Mom and celebrate her.  Her birthday was just like her - low key and full of joy.  She got a card that described her as "sunshine" and she laughed because she doesn't see herself that way, but I definitely feel her light and her warmth every day.

Just an anecdote to describe who she is:  she loves to win, absolutely hates to lose (though she's gotten better at it over time, having played for both great and pretty bad teams in all of her various sports).  Knowing this, I pointed out that I was impressed with a recent basketball game when she had a shot, but passed the ball instead of taking the shot.  She actually does that regularly, but this time it stood out because the kid she passed the shot to is one of the weaker players and he didn't make it.  She said, "well, he was open and he deserves a chance."  I love that her straightforward understanding of how to be a team player is more important even than her desire to win.  I'm so proud of who she is, even with all of her stubbornness, because, even when I think she is wrong (and she sometimes is), she is consistently straightforward in her sense of right and wrong.  I admire so much about her.

Wait!  Says mom.  Don't forget your homework!  :-)

Abuela is helping her to learn to lift weights; this new weightlifting bar was one of her gifts.

Of course.  G and I tried to make the layers orange and black, but the black turned out green and it ended up looking not as cool on the inside as we'd hoped.  Next year...

Friday, April 5, 2019

Opening Day

Never been before!  We got nosebleed seats - literally couldn't have been any higher - and they came with this amazing view.  The threatened rain decided to dump early, so we didn't get wet at all.  The game was a bit dull and the Giants lost, but we had so much fun!

Monday, April 1, 2019

Mini Spring Break: Touring a Redwood Forest from the Canopy

We don't get a true Spring Break - when my classes are off, I still have meetings and students to see.  For the girls, when one set of classes is off, others are on and they never have every course synchronized.  And it is taking a toll (grumpiness, exhaustion) - the heavier class load for K, the comparative lack of challenge for G, the number of things going on... we really needed a break.  I saw a gap day on the calendar this week and decided, with two days' notice, to play hooky for a day.  K did one class online from on the road and will have to make up another.  But it was great to get away for a mini adventure - this one something we've wanted to do since K was eight.  You have to be ten for it though and there's no way we're doing it without G, so we've waited nearly five years for this.  It was worth it - a tour of the canopy of a redwood forest through high up bridges and super awesome zip lines.

Before the tour, under the Oaks.

G posing in foreground; K on platform in rear.  

In this shot, you can see how high we were!

Brave girls hanging off the platform