Archive for the ‘spontaneous learning’ Category


My daughter has always been weird. (Photo from June 2008.)

And we have always talked about politics. Elliott doesn’t tune in for most of it, but Margie has long been aware of the bigger issues and we discuss them. This year we kept tuned into the news for nearly the whole day, and defnitely from about 4pm on. Elliott had opinions as to who should win. For instance, he thought that Carl DeMaio is more handsome than Bob Filner so he’d rather have DeMaio as mayor of San Diego. I have hopes that as he grows up, he will pay closer attention to the actual issues. He will, right?

Margie and I looked at this infographic about the electoral college while we watched the results on NBC. I kind of sort of understand it now. Ish. Margie seemed to grasp it really well.

This election was also historic for women. Here’s a link to six important moments for women, and here’s a link to another two.

In other social studies news, I spent way too long the other day reading this and Margie peeked over my shoulder for some of it. It’s not, technically, kid-friendly. But maybe appropriate for high schoolers. In any case, it was highly entertaining.


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We visited the Fire Department’s open house again today. The kids tried on uniforms and had a hose-dragging race, climbed in a fire truck, toured a van designed to teach you about fire safety (where they learned about hazards, how to use a fire extinguisher, and what a smoky room feels like), toured the firehouse, watched them fire a hose from a tall ladder, made wooden fireboats via the Home Depot, and took a ride on a pretend firetruck. It was a pretty great day with lots learned.

firehose races

and then we sat in a smoky room and elliott wasn't pleased and clearly i was scary

margie making a fireboat

that doesn't look as effective as you think it should

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When I was in high school we used to have bonfires at Coronado beach a lot. One night I noticed the waves glowing and wondered if I was imagining it. Turns out, nope, a phenomenon known as red tide made up of bio luminescent phytoplankton happens every so often. This week San Diego is experiencing an unusually strong one. Check out this video someone (not me) took last week.

Here’s a picture of what it looks like during the day (from KBPS):

So the kids and I decided to go see the show Friday night. We tried Imperial Beach since it’s closest, but there wasn’t much to be seen at all. So we drove north. All the way to La Jolla. Because this was worth the gas money and the late night out. And there they were. It was pretty incredible, that video captures it very well.

mother nature's audience

We didn’t stay long because the kids were all, “We’re cold” and “Stop torturing us, mommy.” Actually, at first they were so excited I had to tell Margie no less than five times (seriously) to stay near me and not run off like an overexcited dog. Oy. But the cold was a bit much for Elliott and then, when Margie was filling a jar with water for us to play with at home, she got hit with a wave which froze her, poor thing, so we jumped back into the car and warmed her right up.

the moon, her reflection and some sorta glowy waves

When we got home and de-sanded, we tried shaking the jar in the dark bathroom and it did light up. Of course as soon as I decided to videotape it to share with you, it stopped. Those Lingulodinium polyedrum are total jerks. Or dead. One or the other.

Anyway, it was amazing. I’m so glad I took the kids. I’m glad I drove all that way just for a few minutes because it was completely worth it.

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This year Margie’s birthday fell on Easter which made it difficult to invite friends over since most of them celebrate the holiday. (We typically don’t, although we do celebrate Ostara on the Vernal Equinox and they are pretty much the same, minus the bits about Jesus.) So we decided to go camping. Well, we tried anyway. see?

the monster emerges

Elliott found this Jerusalem Cricket under a rock.

jerusalem cricket

And I saw this gorgeous Bluebird of Happiness flitting around.

Happy Thing: The Bluebird of Happiness

But, it was cold. And I mean DAMN COLD. It wasn’t even 9pm yet and we were bundled in several layers of clothes, sleeping bags and blankets; our fingers and toes aching from the cold; watching our breath while INSIDE the tent. According to my phone (which I was having trouble using due to the cold – true story) it was 51 degrees and would drop to 42 but the strong, icy wind made it feel much lower than that. If it had been just me, I’d probably have stayed, but I was afraid the kids, who sleep deeper than adults, would kick off their blankets in the night and end up freezing their fingers or toes. And that would make for a really terrible birthday. We just don’t have the gear for those temperatures and I didn’t expect them so late in April in San Diego (then again, we have had a colder than usual winter). So we came home that night.

In the morning we had our planned breakfast of bacon and bagels and then we opened presents around the kitchen table.




Then we went to Balboa Park, where we got to ride the carousel to music from Star Wars.



playing with her DSi in the park

lilies and a reflection of the botannical building

birthday girl

In the afternoon, the neighbors invited the kids to hunt for eggs so Margie took her loot and decorated her own cake.


And then she and her friends sat around playing with their Nintendo DSi’s. A good birthday. ♥

three girls and three DSi's

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LA: Reading, writing, spelling
SS: Local history, missions
Sci: Tidepools (crabs, fish, anemones, kelp), beach cleanup
Math: Multiples of 4
PE: Track & Field, park day, swimming, beach cleanup

LA: Reading, writing, spelling
SS: manners
Sci: Tidepools (crabs, fish, anemones, kelp), beach cleanup
Math: Numbers to 100, time & calendars
PE: Track & Field, park day, swimming, beach cleanup

On Friday we joined out Camp Fire club at the beach to clean it up a bit. I’ve always wanted to do beach cleanups, although I never have and it was really pretty fun. We talked about why we clean up the beach (to keep other people safe, to keep sea animals safe, to keep things that don’t bio degrade out of natural places) and how to keep safe while doing it (wear gloves, don’t touch needles, poo or dead animals). After we were done, my family wandered over to the other side of the pier and checked out the tide pools. They were positively FILLED with crabs both hermit and shore. The shore crabs made a chorus of clicking sounds and would scuttle down walls or around pools until they found a crevice large enough to fit in. The hermit crabs didn’t pinch and were easier to catch. Some of them were without shells, and others were wearing different kinds of shells, in various creative ways. The picture below is of one who’d used a hole in the side of a shell and then TOOK IT OFF in my hand. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to be offended at that or flattered.

this guy got naked in my hand

Here’s one of the shore crabs:

(Sorry for picture quality, I only had my cell phone since I figured beach cleanups weren’t the place for a DSLR.)

Instamatic pics from the day:

Happy Thing: An Afternoon at the Tidepools with my Goofy Kids

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hollywood through the lensbaby

Last weekend my dad flew into Los Angeles and we met him there to spend a couple days in the area. We spent the first afternoon on the hill above Hollywood, visiting the Griffith Observatory. Somehow, despite having been to Hollywood several times as a young adult, I’d missed the fact that the Observatory existed. And that it’s got a little cafeteria called the Cafe at the End of the Universe, a Douglas Adams reference. So we headed up there where we were treated to an incredible view of the Hollywood sign (which may have been Elliott’s favorite part of the whole trip). The kids wandered around the observatory and probably learned some stuff (Margie spent some time opening an aiming a model of a giant telescope) but mostly we enjoyed the views. And then we wandered along a trail – someday we’d like to go back, but it was too late in the day to begin such a long trail.

looking at the hollywood sign


learning some stuff, probably

my boy and the hollywood sign

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For Christmas, the kids got some memberships to some local museums. From Grandpa & Nana, a zoo pass. Thanks to Groupon and various Groupon-like websites, we were also able to pick memberships to the Model Railroad Museum, the New Children’s Museum, and the Chula Vista Nature Center. Since we were already in Balboa Park for our visit to the Natural History Museum, we also activated our membership to the Model Railroads and stopped in for a quick visit to the Lego City since it’s seasonal (I think) and will be gone until next December. Since it was much less crowded than it had been on the eve of December Nights, we were able to hunt down every item on the scavenger hunt list. Here are my favorites.

scavenger hunt

(Please excuse the poor focus)

ostrich taking flight

flag #3


cat burglar


Click here to see them all in order (mostly).

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