Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Spring Break! (Woo Hoo!): Part Four

Seventeen-Mile Drive is a scenic road that winds through Pacific Grove and Pebble Beach along the coast. There are many vista stops along the way and it is simply one of the prettiest drives around.

Here is "The Lone Sycamore".

What are we seeing?

This huge rock covered with sea lions!

So went Spring Break. Good times and good memories. Last week it was back to the grind which was actually a relief after two weeks of flying by the seats of our pants.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Spring Break! (Woo Hoo!): Part Three

A trip to the Winchester Mystery House was a risk. Its very touristy and we had never been there and tolerance for walking around aimlessly was pretty low. But the kids caught wind of our discussion and were all for it so away we went. The 160-room Victorian mansion was built by Winchester heiress, Sarah Winchester. It has some rather unusual details. Like stairs that lead to the ceiling and doors that open to an 8-foot drop into a sink.

Here are grandma and grandpa perusing the guns at the gun museum. Grandma excitedly pointed out that she has the very same model as one of the guns in the case. What? You don't have a gun-totin' granny? Your loss:

One of the many narrow stairways. The steps were a very shallow rise (about 2" tall) and were often so tiny there was not room for an average foot on them (Sarah was a mere 4'10" and lived alone) requiring some of us to walk sideways. This switchback stairway had 44 tiny steps and took 7 turns.

In the end, our risk paid off. We all agreed that the house was even more interesting and bizarre than we imagined it would be.

Our last fandango was a trip to Carmel-by-the-Sea. We decided to head straight for town to have some lunch. Happily, there was plenty of room for us at our favorite lunch spot, The Tuck Box:

After walking around town and going into some shops we stopped in a quiet courtyard and took some pictures:

Then a stop to the bakery and back to the van:

Stay tuned for the final installment: 17 Mile Drive.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Spring Break! (Woo Hoo!): Part Two

Our Spring Break included a Brownies troop meeting where the Brownies participated in a fun spring craft. Decorating pysanky. Pysanky is a Ukranian tradition in which eggs are decorated using a written-wax batik method. I don't know what that means either.

Here, Eleanor and Grandma work on Eleanor's egg:

The finished product:

Grandma gets in on the pysanky action:

Back at home everyone was asking, "Does she or doesn't she?"

She doesn't.

Stay tuned for more. Still to come: Winchester Mystery House (mysterious!) and Carmel-by-the-Sea (delicious!).

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Spring Break! (Woo Hoo!)

The bulk of our Spring Break has ended with the returning of Grandma and Grandpa Paul to the airport. We had a great time visiting with , ate well (banana cream pie...yum), saw amazing things and enjoyed some time off from our studies.

The first fun event of Spring Break was Easter. Here, Eleanor and Grandpa dye eggs:

On Easter morning the kids found their Easter baskets and hunted for eggs and ate candy. And more candy. And then one of them decided to split their head open and need stitches:

On Monday, we headed to Monterey to visit the aquarium:

That's a seahorse, believe it or not.

Next day we had lunch at Esther's German Bakery in Los Altos. German pretzels, apple pancakes, sauerkraut, bratwurst and potato pancakes...das ist gut, ja?

Thus ends the first installment of Spring Break 2009. Stay tuned for further episodes.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Richard the Lionhearted

Here are today's narrations on Richard the Lionhearted:


When Richard became king he went to fight in the Crusades. He joined up with the Duke of Austria and the King of France but Richard began to quarrel with them. Richard didn't reclaim Jerusalem but left because his brother, John, was trying to steal the throne.

And here is his drawing:


A long time ago King Richard I went on the Crusades with the King of France and the Duke of Austria. They quarrled with Richard and went home. Richard never got close to Jerusalem. On his way home Richard was imprisoned by the Duke of Austria. He was found by his friend Blondel. The people of England paid Richard's ransom of 150,000 marks. Richard was killed in a battle over a small French castle.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Looking Ahead

I don't have a "Week in Review" post this week because we took last week off to clean. I can report that the kids' rooms are in good shape. It wasn't the ceiling-to-floor clean I was hoping to achieve but its close. I'm fairly organized and like to stay on top of things so its amazing that there was still so much clutter. How does that happen? I'd blame the new administration but that seems like a long shot.

We tackled most of the play room and all of the bookshelves and the school room. That leaves several rooms and one very atrocious master bedroom closet to go. I'm grading our spring cleaning week B-. Better luck next year.

Speaking of next year, I have been curriculum gathering. Last year, I made the mistake of thinking that summer would be the ideal time to plan out the school year. And I would have been right if summer were about 3 months longer. This year I know better.

Near as I can tell, this is what next year will look like:

Eleanor - 5th grade:

  • Lively Latin Book 2
  • Saxon 6/5
  • Classical Writing Homer A
  • Classical Writing Beginning Poetry
  • Harvey's Grammar
  • Spelling Workout E/F
Henry - 2nd grade:
  • Prima Latina
  • Saxon 3
  • Writing With Ease: Year 2
  • First Language Lessons 3
  • Spelling Workout C/D
Susannah - Preschool:
  • Get Ready for the Code
  • Saxon K
  • Finish The Ordinary Parents' Guide to Teaching Reading
  • Story of the World 3
  • World geography
  • Nature Study
  • Art
  • Music
  • Science?
Those details of those last five are still being hashed out. I'm not sure I'm going to take on a formal science study but I'm considering a human body unit. I've ordered an art curriculum but I need to look it over first. I tried to order a music study course tonight but was thwarted but an uncooperative website.

Off to finish prepping for the next week of the school year already in progress.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Field Trip!

Wednesday's field trip combined elements of chemistry, horticulture, history, and drinkin'. In other words, a trip to the Napa valley. Here's Sadie:

We met the faculty and students from King Alfred Academy at our first stop, Dutch Henry Winery, where we ate a picnic lunch and covered subjects like: European culture (there was a bocce ball court), gastronomic efficiency (all kids needed to eat faster) and veterinary medicine (dogs shouldn't be fed pretzels). The dog who was the subject of our lesson was one of a pair of dogs that belonged to the winery. This one seemed drawn to our table in a way that its pal was not. I later discovered, upon reading its name tag, that it may have had to do with the fact that we kept calling it. Here's Sadie:

A quick shot of the tasting room. The shot I wish I had snapped was the one showing the expressions of the two young women who walked into the tasting room a few minutes later to find 5 extremely unsocialized children under the age of 10 wandering around the kegs at noon on a Wednesday in March. But I was too busy trying to assure the women that the children were friendly and wouldn't bite...unless instructed.

We then moved on to the Frank Family Winery where the fella manning the tasting room was very vocal in his astonishment at seeing the Von Trapp Family showing up for a tasting. "What's this?" he boomed nervously, "Wine tasting nursery school? Are those kids gonna be all right out there unattended?" The kids were about 7 feet away from us on the porch. I can understand his concern. They did look menacing:

We assured him that they were all wearing electric shock collars that could activated by a push of a button on our watches. And then had a taste of this red champagne:

This winery also came with a friendly dog (that mercifully did not share a name with any of my children but my sympathies to Sarah Palin) so while the kids played slobber ball with Bristol the dads did more tasting and the moms wandered around taking pictures of flowers.

Our next stop was to Mumm Winery where we went on a tour to learn how champagne is made. The tour guide warned us that if our kids even looked at him funny we would be locked in the dungeon and fed nothing but stale bread, aerosol "cheese" and Blue Nun for a whole week.

After we'd successfully finished the tour without losing any of our children to Oompa Loompas or rivers of chocolate we walked through a corridor lined with photography from the Annual Mustard Festival. That's when we ran into this guy :

We noticed that for a mere $300 that photo could be ours. So we all pooled our money and then set every dollar of it on fire instead. Unfortunately, it was a Spare the Air day so we had to pay a hefty fine. Still, totally worth it.

On the way out I stopped to take a picture of a pair of lovebirds:

The kids stopped on the patio to check out the tasting menu:

"What looks good to you?"
"I don't care, you order. As long as its not Merlot. I'm not drinking any Merlot."

Our next stop was St. Clement:

Clement is French for, "We dare you to climb this hill after you've had five glasses of wine." Fortunately, none of us had had anywhere near that much wine and we all made it up there just fine. We grabbed a bottle of red wine, a picnic table and this view:

We broke out a snack of cheese and bread and other assorted yummy and let the kids run around the lawn. Eventually, the moms wandered off to take pictures:

We took a quick walk through town that started with Brittney and Zelda getting tossed out of a used bookstore. Then off to dinner.

If it looks like we had a good time, well, that's just an illusion, Michael. We had a GREAT time.