Archive for October, 2012

japanese friendship garden

Balboa Park had a special event over the weekend for families and kids in costumes. So I hurried and finished up Elliott’s costume (he’s going to be a Weeping Angel from Doctor Who) and we left. Unfortunately it was a hot, very dry day (welcome to October in San Diego) so we didn’t stay long. We did, though, enjoy a very cool scavenger hunt at the Japanese Friendship garden. The kids learned about zen gardens, did some origami, planted some honeysuckle, and learned about kabocha (a Japanese pumpkin; we actually used to get them from our CSA sometimes). Margie created her witch costume herself, she is planning a blog post about it in the near future.

making a zen garden

and then the weeping angel fed the koi

she made that paper container and planted the plant

And then we ran home to cower in the dark in front of fans. I wish we’d taken time to go to MOPA. I heard they had a photo backdrop of the Man in the Moon.


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And then we went to Mars and saw Curiousity.

We joined a local group for a field trip up to the Discovery Cube in Santa Ana. We’ve been there a couple of times before, most recently for their Star Wars exhibit. This time we went for their Indiana Jones exhibit, but before we got to see that, we spent time in the rest of the museum.

And then Indy went to the supermarket.



And then into the exhibit. Margie did the entire scavenger hunt they provided, and Elliott mostly watched the boulder scene over and over again. I enjoyed listening to the “Truth and Fiction” bits in the headphones they provided.

boys watching temple of doom scenes

elliott worked for awhile as an archeologist

As for the rest of the week…

In science both kids began working on an egg drop in their engineering class, and started learning photoshop in their computer class.

In grammar Margie was working on future tenses. She has also started working on a blog to practice writing which I will link to later. Elliott began learning about contractions in grammar.

In math Margie continued working on Roman numerals, multiplication (3-digit numbers by 1-digit numbers), and geometry (angles and line segments). Elliott continued working on subtraction, time, and numbers up to 100.

In history the kids both learned about pilgrims (the Mayflower, and at Salem).

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Science is Cute

These are the science videos we’ve been watching this week.


BABY ECHNIDAE ARE CALLED PUGGLES. <–Best thing ever. Also the fact that the plural of echnida is echnidae.

In other science news, the kids had to learn facts about their chosen animal characters for Junior Theatre. Margie picked the common dolphin and Elliott decided on moon jellyfish. The lines they have to memorize are below.

~The Moon jellyfish is an invertebrate, meaning it has no bones or internal skeleton.
~Jellyfish have no respiratory, cardiovascular, or digestive systems.
~Jellyfish bodies are gelatinous, consisting of a bell, which is the dome that makes the jellyfish swim, and the tentacles, which drop down to paralyze and catch small animals to eat.
~Jellyfish belong to the phylum Cnidaria, and their closest relatives are the sea anemone and coral.
~The moon jellyfish is the most widespread jellyfish in the world, living in almost every single ocean and sea.
~A group of jellyfish is called a bloom, a swarm, or a smack.

~The common dolphin is a mammal, because it is warm-blooded and gives milk to its babies, called calves.
~The common dolphin can swim very fast if it wants to using its fins, flippers, and malleable body.
~Common dolphins travel in large aggregations of hundreds of dolphins.
~Common dolphins are willing to dive hundreds of feet to find their favorite food, fish and squid.
~The common dolphin is not commonly captivated, like its relative the bottle nose dolphin.
~Dolphins, like whales, breathe using a blowhole on the top of their bodies.
~Dolphins have been known to save the lives of drowning humans by keeping them at the surface of the water.

And because the title I’ve chosen to give this blog entry has given me an ear worm of science, enjoy this They Might Be Giants video.

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Studying at the library.

While the kids were at Junior Theatre Tuesday morning, my friend and I walked to the rose garden in the park and saw a giant spider. Like. Seriously. HUGE. I have never seen a spider this big in San Diego, except once when I saw a tarantula crossing a dirt road in 1996. I think this guy’s body alone was just over 2 inches. He was eating a bee. That’s how badass he was. The kids weren’t with me to see him, but I showed them this picture. So that’s like education. Or something.

Three pounder. At least. Srsly. Dude was BIG.

Later that day, just to make it Official Spider Day, Margie saw these baby spiders hatching. I didn’t have my big camera ready and we had to hurry off to her swimming lesson so the phone was my fastest choice. Those little fuzzy bits around the egg sac in the middle are the hatchlings. THERE ARE SO MANY OF THEM. We probably have to move now.

And then we watched baby spiders hatch.

And then Margie went to swim and Elliott and his friend Akiva played outside and practiced levitating.


The littles wait while the bigs are in swim team. @clairitybe

On Wednesday the kids went to science again. It was Elliott’s turn to build a fan, and in Natural Science he took a little nature walk around the building. In Margie’s computer class she learned about the parts to a computer, and in chemistry she put drops of different liquids onto a dime to see how many would fit.

But on Friday? Back to Disneyland. It was my friend Claire’s birthday so we went to spend the day with her family.

four kids

We are total Disneyland geeks, and one of our favorite facts is that all the plants in Tomorrowland are edible. Walt’s vision for “agrifuture” was that the “landscaping doubles as a potential farm, projecting an ecologically astute future, where humanity makes the most of its resources.

edible decorations in tomorrowland

In the afternoon Claire’s family had to go rest up for the big Halloween party that night so the kids and I checked out the little Halloween activity area in Frontierland. They colored and played games. Billy Hill and the Hillbillies came out and played for awhile, and when the train passed behind the fence it stopped and we all yelled back and forth – that was a lot of fun.


elliott's spider mask

In lessons for the week:

Elliott worked on time in math, and read about Jamestown in history. He was working on pronouns in grammar. He and I have started reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

Margie has been working on verb tenses, and participles in grammar. In history she began learning about the European interest in the Americas. She covered everything from Galileo’s discoveries to the first explorers to the first colonies. In math she worked more on Roman numerals, and on multiplication and estimating the answers.

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Monday: Science Class

First time in a lecture hall.

I’ve been wanting to put the kids in these awesome science classes for a long time now. But Elliott has always been too young so I’ve waited. Until now. Monday was their first day. Both kids were nervous, but probably especially Elliott. After reading all the rules (like, pay attention and don’t goof off) I got afraid that Elliott might get kicked out. Heh. Luckily, they seem to have the classes set up into age groups and I assume that means they will be used to handling little ones. Also, Elliott’s friend Elijah is taking the same class. I’d totally forgotten they’d be there so it was a nice surprise.

That's Margie's head there in the middle.

Anyway, I went in with them and sat through the opening assembly and it was great. I got a fantastic feeling from the administrators. They way they spoke with the kids, taking them seriously and also knowing how to be silly with them, gave me a lot of confidence in the program. And, of course, I’ve heard amazing things about this program for years from people so by the time I left the kids to their classes I was totally comfortable with everything. I went to get a frappuccino and sat in the car reading JK Rowling’s new book.

How I'll spend the next two hours while the kids learn a science.

When I picked the kids up, they were so excited they couldn’t stop talking over each other to tell me all the cool stuff they did. They are each taking four classes this semester: Natural Science, Engineering, Computers, and Chemistry. Margie had the first two and Elliott had the second two; they will switch on Wednesday. Margie made a fan in her engineering class, and did some work with lightbulbs and batteries. They didn’t have a lot of time in Natural Science this week because of the into assembly. Elliott learned how computers work (and then came home and drew me a diagram) and did some work with different kind of liquids in chemistry.

Elliott's diagram Of how a computer works.

I’ve been worried about how stressful this school year was looking to be, with nearly every evening full of activities, but their reaction to these classes is more important than, like, dinner. I mean it. Srsly.

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School pictures

School pictures.

School pictures last week. It was so fast. We were in and out in 15 minutes, and that was only because I had to stop to use the restroom. Normally we wait awhile. This was a nice change. Except last year we sat and talked with friends while we waited and that was fun, too.


We watched the vice presidential debate. It was like the 1950’s in that we watched it while eating dinner, but we watched it on YouTube and brought the computer into the dining room. So less like the 50’s, I guess.

In 2012 the TV eats in front of you! I mean sits there while you eat. I mean the computer. This joke isn't really translating well.

At this point Margie and I discuss a lot of what’s going on in politics, but Elliott isn’t really there yet. I think it’s important to have this sort of thing on around him, though, so that it’s a natural part of life and when he IS ready, it will already have that space prepared in his brain.

In grammar Margie worked on verb phrases, helping verbs, and linking verbs. She has been reading The Twits by Roald Dahl. In social studies she began learning about the colonization of the Americas. In math she covered Roman numerals, multiplication sequences, and word problems.

In math Elliott worked on fractions and division. In grammar he worked on adjectives, commas, and identifying verbs. In social studies he read a graphic novel about Roanoke and dictated a paragraph about it to me.

But we also took a trip to the tide pools. Saturday evening I saw that a local newscaster was promising a negative tide (very low tide) on Sunday afternoon so we decided to go and our friends decided to join us. It turned out to be a good thing they came along because I would never have been so adventurous myself. We climbed along the rocks all the way around into a little inlet. Along the way we saw tons of hermit crabs, some shore crabs, some fish, tons of seaweed and kelp, and an octopus. I didn’t see him, but everyone else did. Lev even noticed him change colors. He was hunting fish. It was a really incredible day, and I hope to do it again sometime soon. Apparently there willbe about two negative tides a month until May. You can see the tide schedule here.

a bouquet of...  mussels?

me and elliott

my girlie


Margie took this picture:

margie took this one

Elliott took this one under water:

elliott took this one

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I shall be traumatizing my children at bedtime tonight.

In school I was traumatized no less than four times by studying Oedipus Rex. Two of those times were simultaneous in two separate classes. I’m convinced that all the teachers and professors in the South Bay shared a copy of this PBS (BBC?) version from 1984 where Oedipus wears a white suit the entire time. Which? Not really the best color if you’re planning on gouging your eyes out at the end. (It doesn’t count as a spoiler if the play is 2,500 years old so stop complaining.) The only redeeming factor to having been forced to study this was that when Viva Variety performed a version in CB Trucker Talk circa 1997, I laughed until I cried and my stomach hurt. But until I can find that clip on YouTube, I will consider my life merely a shell of what it could be.

ANYWAY. Elliott and I have been reading the D’Aulaires’ book of Greek Myths and when I realized it contains the horror that is Oedipus, I squealed with glee at the idea that I’d get to traumatize my kids at least 6-10 years earlier than I previously expected.

I am an excellent mother.

The book sort of glosses over the fact that he GOUGES OUT HIS OWN EYEBALLS, and that kind of bothered me. But it also makes no mention what.so.ever of the fact that the dude is named after an injury he sustained after being abused as an infant. Oedipus translates to “swollen foot”. Yes. Next time, instead of simply reading these couple of pages to my kids, I’m going to make them watch the entire television version, complete with quirky 80’s music, with me on YouTube and really traumatize them.

The next morning, just to be difficult, Margie told me she LOVED it.

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