Maker Faire 2018 – a big week

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It was another crazy busy week including a very full weekend! Last week I missed the Market Day at my daughter’s school for the first time in years as I was working and I heard these mealworm races were excellent, I suggested that they add a chicken next time and the mealworm that survives is the winner!

 

Thursday evening we had the Celebration of Learning at my work where the kids present their projects. For the 1st-grade class, they presented their Global Village which they made from foam core and upcycled materials. Inspired by the book, If the World Were a Village read by my co-teacher, we chatted to the kids and documented their discussion to get the project off the ground. We asked the science teacher to help with the materials and organising the footprint of the village where everything should go. Our art teacher helped with the details of the ground and road and supplying the paint. I helped the kids with the paint colours, some of the construction and documenting the info. To make it a truly collaborative experience the 2nd and 3rd-grade classes helped set up the LED power station. The idea from the beginning is that each child who made their pieces/places can take them home to play with them.

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The photo booth!
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Shooing the birds

 

 

 

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Henna tattoo fun
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Waiting for my Lyft!
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Hello from Bollywood!

Saturday evening I went to the 2nd Annual Bollywood party as a gift to myself for studying even though I still have 3 weeks to go! The party is organised by some parents from Stevenson Elementary school as an auction prize. Somehow over the evening, I had a few too many vodka mango cocktails and I was dancing the night away, shooing away the birds (my new Bollywood move!). It is always such a fun night and so good to meet some new families and catch up with friends.

 

 

Sunday we had to get up early and go to our volunteer shift at the Maker Faire for Stevenson Elementary Schools booth where the 4th grade was showcasing their gold rush sluice boxes and the 2nd grade had their air plants art installation on display. We worked our 2-hour shift and off we went to enjoy the fun of the Maker Faire and by then Missy was hungry and ready for a hot dog! Not me I really do not like the food at Maker Faire all carnival deep fried disgusting food.

 

We lived the dream by checking out a teardrop trailer to see if we could fit in and then we found this refurbished trailer the kids really enjoyed, perfect for 2 people and the kids can camp in the tent outside 😀

 

As we ran into some Australian friends after checking out Homegrown – a place where you find the artisanal yummy food including hot cocoa, we saw a parade of cupcakes and another friend of ours from school riding the horse-drawn solar carriage.

 

Wandering through the rest of the Faire we had fun with Big Face Box while we caught up with friends from our old school plus so much art was on show and SO many useless robots. We had such a cool time, running into friends and checking out all sorts of new gadgets and games.

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I happened to be taking a break from walking when I came across this talk from Ted Dintersmith and he talked about the future of education in America and how there needs to be a bit of a shake-up in regards to the system. He showed videos of jobs will not be available in the future due to advances in technology and how there is a need for students to be able to be innovators and makers. He is out there to inspire students and educators to feature project-based learning schools allowing kids to become critical thinkers. The timing of this talk was perfect as I have to write a reflection of my educational philosophy for my next assignment!

 

Plus at the Maker Faire, I found this artist Miss Velvet Cream by chatting with someone at a food truck – so inspiring to see her work plus she had won all these blue ribbons including the editors choice. Oh, and how can I forget running into a fellow chicken lover Stoneface Project (we did a craft show together in SF ages ago!) at the SF Bazaar and she gave me some super cool earrings – a huge thank you! A couple of other fun discoveries were Escama Studio – pieces made from soft drink pulls by artisans in Brazil. And my daughter loved Bottle of Clouds laser cut hand painted pins and earrings, I could not resist her cat and teapot earrings, perfect for a cat and tea lover!

Such a great time was had by everyone and we were very tired at the end of the weekend, time to catch up on some sleep…

Grateful for all we have

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My exercise and eating well regime have been going really well as my meal plans are simpler now with eating more salads and knowing how to balance it with protein and grains. Tonight’s couscous salad of watercress, raw beets, grated carrots, radish, tomato and my new fave plant protein Beyond Meat “chicken” strips made from soy and pea protein topped with a miso chilli dressing so perfect for a meatless Monday. If I were to go vegan this is a perfect meal, one day I will get there! Still eating seasonal, local and organic adds so much variety to your diet and it is even better to get the vegetables direct from the farm.

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So I went out for Mothers Day celebrations on Saturday rather than Sunday as I am not a fan of crowds or people. I had a study break from my paper and went out for lunch to Terun on California Avenue in Palo Alto and afterwards, I went shoe shopping for my mothers day gift. Oh boy, what a treat to find such comfortable and beautifully made shoes, I saw these on a parent at the school I work at and said, “where do you find them” and she told me! These shoes are handmade in Israel and they are the most comfortable and light shoe to wear, I really had a hard choice choosing so I decided on the blue flats as I am looking for alternative shoes in my shoe collection to take over the Camper shoes that I have loved over the years. I get a feeling that from now on any spare $ I have will be spent on these Jafa shoes, they are the best! I mean the colours of the boots are stunning and that is what I have my eye on in the future 😀

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I enjoyed this vodka cocktail for lunch with beet gnocchi, eggplant balls, a Neapolitan style pizza with pear and gruyere plus a farro dish with calamari – what an amazing feast!

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At work former students of 2nd grade built this portable see-saw at tinkering, it is super cool and I see the kids hang out at recess or during class time for some air time outside. It sways on a PVC pipe and a chunk of wood – superb design.

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This week after a week of being appreciated it was time to be grateful for the wonderful year I have had. At the end of last summer, I began a temporary substitute teacher assistant role which initially was going to be 6 months but carried on for the school year where I got to meet another two lively cohorts of children in Kinder and 1st. I am truly grateful for this opportunity of working alongside some incredible educators. Today I was notified they don’t have a role for me next year so I only have 19 days left in this role until Summer vacation. After that it is a holiday in Australia to visit family and friends and then back here for one more year of student mama life and organising our move back home, it will surely be exciting!

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I usually go walking every week around the neighbourhood and it has been beautiful lately with all the spring flowers everywhere, I especially love the orange California poppies. This beauty is growing from a succulent and it is super tall and so pink it catches my eye each time I walk past – I managed to capture this in the evening light the other day, early morning would be best I think!

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Oh, and as I was cleaning out the classroom of library books to return I found this inspiring story and did a read aloud to the kinder kids. It is a story of Julia Butterfly Hill who lived in a redwood for over 2 years to see it preserved for all time. It was such an inspiring story inspired from the novel which I have to get my hands on sometime to ready over the summer I think! Which brings me to the Tarkine in Tasmania – a place where I visited many moons ago with The Wilderness Society. Patagonia has made a film about giving this incredible forest sanctuary for all time World Heritage Protection. Heres to making that happen as I really would love to take my children there when we go home as it is such an experience for them to visit an ancient rainforest where you feel so small.

Teacher appreciation week

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A very quick post this week as I am meant to be writing a paper at the moment and I have so much to do! Teacher appreciation week was last week and it was just wonderful to feel so appreciated by the children. We enjoyed breakfast and lunch and each day there was a surprise organised by our caring parents. It really is such a treat!

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Here is our breakfast table looking so good with fresh fruit and quiche and all sorts of yummy goodness. The salads were just divine with fresh mozzarella, basil and tomato.

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This is dry collage on a light table with beads from a beaded curtain that my co-teacher carefully cut out and the kids sorted by colour. Such an interesting way to create patterns.

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The kindergarteners made salads for the teachers from their pea plants in a little restaurant they created and here they are in a pretend play restaurant with the chef hats they made for the kitchen.

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My daughter’s school organised treats for her teachers too, we also had a last minute potluck on Thursday which made the week quite full. Here is their gratitude tree which makes music in the wind.

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Our weekend was jam-packed full of a yard sale, visiting friends and out to dinner plus finalising my first draft of assessment 2 – so time to get into gear so I can submit it on the weekend. This is a pic of an Alexanders Patisserie Matcha dessert which was just like a Swiss roll, with delicious meringue – I love the colour of this dessert and it was perfect with a peony tea.

You gotta have faith…

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Sometimes you have to have faith that the universe is unfolding as it should (I found this stone today at work, I put it into a plant where someone else would find it!). Sometimes your patience will collapse and you feel overwhelmed by what is going on especially when it has involved work, study, work, study and park then finally a cocktail!

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Observing nature on my bike rides have slowed me down in my routine of work, exercise, cook dinner, try and study and do it all over again the next day. This symbolism from nature has got me slow down and take notice (even though I am really enjoying riding fast uphill!)

My eating habits have included way more protein as I have been exercising more and the plan is to build more muscle – yes I can feel it in my legs but the arms are slowly getting there. The midsection needs more work but hey I love food too much so whatever! My new fave is Beyond Meat, it is a plant-based protein made from the latest vegan protein – peas. I found the fake chicken which has a very good texture and was perfect with some pesto and brown rice pasta. The burger I really enjoyed on top of rice with veggies and pickles. Other sources of protein have been poached eggs, now that is too easy to cook with veggies, salad and sauerkraut! And marinated tempeh in balsamic which was very tasty when grilled, that is in between some corn tortillas with a handful of cheese for a quesadilla with guac and salad. My body is feeling much better now that I am eating some grains again and I am so happy with how healthy I am feeling after eating clean for the last 2 and a half months.

Now with this eating/exercising routine, I am allowed a cheat day away from the calorie counting and eating grains, salad and protein. I went out with my friends for a birthday dinner Friday night and it was so good to try a new restaurant, Cucina Venti Italian food with local and seasonal ingredients. The salads were amazing, our table of mostly vegetarians enjoyed the flatbread, zucchini cake, salad and the saffron fish was absolutely delicious. The cocktails were perfect and to top it off the dessert was absolutely divine with tiramisu and a chocolate fondant cake plus a mango sorbet. It was certainly an excellent night out with the ladies eating tasty food. Thanks to AU for taking the pics of the food and sharing them, I am doing what I enjoy most about eating out and that is taking pics of my food – thanks for the memories!!

Oh, there is that snail again – telling me to slow down and take it easy! This week is teacher appreciation week and I have been collecting flowers for my daughter’s school as well as receiving flowers from our students today with flowers from their gardens. I am so thankful for all the families and what they do. It is wonderful to be recognised for the hard yards that go into every day. The kids really enjoy themselves and I love watching them grow over time! I am truly grateful that I have this opportunity to work at such a special school with such an active community.

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In between everything with my time out at the park I have been crocheting with yarn that I have found from old projects with small balls that I have kept over the years and adding yarn that I have recently acquired from FabMo that I could not resist because it was neon yellow!

The universe has a way of letting me know that I need to keep it together and carry on because as soon as I felt that little bit of doubt things fell apart around me, for example, the kids fell sick and took time out of school – lucky my husband could stay home and then boom, I was transported into my old life with taking the kids to their activities plus work, no thank you! It is funny only then I realised that this intense life is not so bad after all, at least it is busy and the time is flying by! We will be going home when the time is right there is no need to feel so upset and have to uproot right here right now. Signs became apparent that it is OK to feel this way and when our house is ready in Melbourne then it will be time to go. I am ready now to leave but there are good things that can unfold before your eyes like a good night out with friends, a peaceful bike ride, calm days, time to study, support from family, connections to your children and just pure and simple time together watching Australian movies. Going with the ebb and flow of life is all that matters really.

Slow like a snail

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Back to routine last week and man it flew past which was good as the week back to reality after a break is always a tough one. My little exercise routine is going great as I have been doing this for the last 2 months now – counting calories, exercising for 30 minutes every day with a rest day on Saturday – I will ride my bike or if I feel like people go to a yoga class. To be honest, I am peopled out by the weekend as a teacher you are on all day and with people all day so by the end of the day/week I just want to chill ideally solo! My strength / HIIT workouts have been amazing and every other day I walk or do a low-intensity workout and the exercise really helps with stress and feeling good for the week ahead. Admittedly, by 10pm it is bedtime after a big day.

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The other big element in my life is studying for my education degree online from Swinburne University in Melbourne. I was busting through my last essay and I received my results and I managed to score a high distinction,  I had no idea I would actually get such a mark when I had crammed and written that paper in a week! I am now working on my second paper for the course focussing on the different philosophies of education such as Montessori, Reggio and Waldorf/Steiner. The research is fascinating so I am motoring along this week as we have consolidation week so time to hunker down and get some essay planning done.

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Tonight I was inspired by an heirloom tomato to make a salad of grilled asparagus, cucumber, celery, fresh basil and quinoa with a dressing of balsamic vinegar, lemon and olive oil. Sitting on top of the salad is a very underrated protein addition tuna fish topped with mayo and capers, yummo this really packs an excellent protein feast with the quinoa and tuna.

As I am building lean muscle it has been very tricky for me to get enough protein in each day so Naked Pea protein drink has been a great saviour with 27g of protein per serving which is excellent for a vegetarian/pescaterian. Also, tempeh and seitan are good sources of protein and really I should be staying away from the vegetarian bacon but I am craving salt!

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Here is my buddy Bella laying on top of a pillow my other little bud used to love (my boy Mackaroni RIP) – she is way more of a homebody now that she is alone. One day I will get another friend for her but until we leave the USA it is hard to justify the costs of shipping animals back to Australia. She does get a lot of love from all of us, even though she can be very aloof, though I think that is what we love cat lovers like – the independence of our feline friends!

Spring Breaking

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We all had a lovely spring break the kids and I. It all started with completing my paper for Uni, and once that was done I had a bit of a breather with hanging out with the kids. Monday I drove them to the farm to do the chicken chores. It was such a beautiful day to be hanging with the chickens, they loved the outside sunshine and snacks with the humans. This Buff Orphington chook is one big lady, she is all feathers and such a sweetie! You can see Snowflake the white chicken on the ground, she was adopted by one of the kids in the 4H chicken project as someone left her at the farm?! She is another lovely lady. While we were hanging with the kids and the chickens in the spring sunshine, we even had our friends from San Jose visit and drop off my son after a sleepover.

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After an intense study period, I like to craft and as I had not switched out my entryway decorations since the last holiday I wanted to bring in something fun to my new garden bell addition. I made pom poms after I found this cool neon yarn and I added it to an embroidery hoop without its buddy so here is the undersea background for the whale. I am now crocheting a blanket which is a lot of fun as I have not crocheted in ages. It all started with a granny square YouTube video when I was kicked out of the lounge room as Missy was playing the Switch and watching Netflix (a cooking show!) with her friends for a girls sleepover.

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Thursday I went in search of a mysterious flat white coffee as an Aussie friend of mine told me about a place downtown Mountain View that had decent coffee. You see, I stopped drinking coffee 12 years ago when I moved here as the only well-made coffee I could find was at Dana Street Cafe (an Aussie barista made a kick-ass flat white). It was inconsistent as she was not always working plus I was not hanging out at the coffee shop with a baby. So after a while, it was no more coffee for me which turned out to be a good thing as I became a kombucha fan down the track…. but that is another story! Anyway, this coffee shop downtown is called 1oz coffee, and it was a super cool cafe to hang out sans the nerds! Actually, there is one in the background! Well, it seems to me that this is a place to come and drink coffee and snack out with friends (delicious pastries from Alexanders down the road, plus Rx date bars and big cookies) rather than sit on your machine all day with that one cup of coffee.

After the coffee (see the super cute flat white) I took the kids to look at the caterpillars outside the Mountain View Library. These caterpillars were everywhere, they will one day become the Tussock Moth when they transform. They were all over the sculptures outside the library, and the kids really enjoyed finding them in bunches all going somewhere? The library is always the best place to hang out over break even though there is a remodel happening and the kid’s book selection is minimal. The kids will still come out with a bag full of books especially when they have been banned from the computer for the break! It worked out well as we would have family game time playing Mario Cart and the kids could track my progress and give me high 5s whenever I was in the top 10 – yay!

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The bonus of being off all week was that pretty much every day we would go to the park and hang out with our neighbours! The kids would climb the trees and look for critters and even bring them home to live in a shoebox. The adults would knit on the blanket and drink wine, not long till summer and we can do that all the time!!

I also had the opportunity to deep clean my house to get rid of 3 boxes of books, clean out the kitchen and kids room to sell at the upcoming citywide garage (yard) sale on the 5th May weekend. And after that it will be time to donate everything, it will feel so good to get rid of stuff though we still need to move some more stuff if we have another year or so it is hard for me to donate all the yarn! I did give a local maker space lots of craft materials, and that felt good. Most of my little yarn balls are going to my big granny square blanket that will tell the story of the many pieces I made in the time I have been knitting which is around 12 years that is since I was pregnant with Ash, man time flies when you are having fun!

A lovely birthday week!

It was a quiet week last week as I was busting my free time to write a paper for University plus it was my birthday! It was so fun to go to school and have the kinder kids give me their wishes they had made and present a beautiful bunch of flowers to make my day.

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At my work – Ventana School, it was the week of stories, so that gave me a great excuse to wear my owl costume from the Owl Diaries book series – I am a bit of a fan of Eva the owl ever since my daughter bought it home from the library. Since then I have moved onto any book by Raina Telegemeier and the Phoebe and her Unicorn series. You know I need to read the stories to understand what the kids are getting into these days.

Recently I listened to the book The Wild Robot, and I absolutely love it, and as a birthday gift, I bought myself The Wild Robot Escapes, book 2 and it is so good! The audiobook is so well produced and well read I cannot wait until book 2 is out so I can hear the narrators voice again. The story is incredible with the friendship connection from a new being (the robot)  stranded on an island, meeting sea otters :D, combined with the futuristic sci-fi element where the island became an island from the rising sea levels, so all types of animals live there. The characters are lovable, and you feel for the robot as she begins life as an outsider and soon becomes loved – it is full of such grand adventure! I have not enjoyed a book as much as this for ages. I have a copy at the bookstore so I can add it to my collection for a classroom read aloud (it is recommended for grades 3 to 6).

Speaking of books, we had a Hicklebee’s book fair at school as a fundraiser, and this was a book bought into the classroom. I love the illustrations in this book and by Lemony Snicket. Our family favourite is A Series of Unfortunate Events audiobook series which we listened to on our way down to the Joshua Tree. And now Netflix has a TV series of all the books which we love watching on the weekends.

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So for my birthday, I had a very delicious dinner of a middle eastern salad topped with grilled fish at Dish Dash in Sunnyvale, and over the weekend we enjoyed family time going to the Aquarius cinema in Palo Alto to see Isle of Dogs by Wes Anderson. I am a bit of a fan of his films as one of my faves is Fantastic Mr Fox, actually looking at his filmography I really enjoy most of his movies! My husband and I met volunteering at a film gallery so going to the cinema (mainly to see an arthouse film) is a special time for us.

The rest of the weekend was lovely with hanging out at the park in the sunshine after I had done enough writing in the afternoon. On Sunday was a bit of a write off for the ladies enjoying too much wine on the picnic blanket (the picture above says it all!) and singing our afternoon away… I was even thinking of getting out my ukelele?!?

Bit of a busy week!

So I am supposed to be writing a paper at the moment, but it is so hard to get anything done with the week I had! It all began with a stuffed animal sewing workshop with Kinder and 1st-grade kids at my work as an auction prize. Here are a few of the animals made by these first-time sewers and I was really impressed with their perseverance and creativity.

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After the workshop, we had a call with our architect in Melbourne (our friend) who completed the design drawings for our house, and we absolutely love it! Our block is not huge so we are using the space very effectively. We just love the addition of colour and the skylight to bring in light to the addition at the back of the house. The front is a cottage that will be the master bedroom and downstairs bathroom. The extension on the back will be the living and dining all open plan – which I love! And the upstairs is the kid’s bedroom and their bathroom. I am so happy about this house and am so looking forward to seeing it built! Waiting patiently is hard, but I know it will all be worth it.

Thursday we had an open house at Stevenson Elementary for our 4th grader and saw her beautiful artwork and stories on pioneer times from her trip to Fort Ross. This week they are off again to Coloma for the gold rush overnight field trip with other parent chaperones which she is looking forward to doing, away from her parents :/

Friday night was Missy’s birthday, so we went out for sushi together as a family for her choice of dinner. Afterwards, I had a date with some friends to celebrate a March birthday with lots of cocktails, delicious Mexican food and dessert – check out the volcano cake from Agave.

At work we created a lovely craft for the kids to do with an invitation to write a personal narrative about their family using various materials, they crafted them to discuss experiences, their family and pets and it is such a great way to encourage writing through art.

Saturday was the big party for the 10-year-old! We were lucky we had beautiful sunny spring weather – the plan was a sewing felt animal picnic at the park but the kids really just wanted to play together, which was fine! The cake was a vanilla bean bundt cake with sprinkles inside to make it the funfetti version. I had made a funfetti cake a couple of years ago with natural sprinkles which did not really work and I realised what the secret was – it is the sprinkles from Safeway that are unnaturally brightly coloured.

We set up the craft table for the kids to choose their cat or dog – Missy had asked her friends beforehand so we knew what to cut out and they were ready to go! What ended up happening was the parents were sewing and drinking, and the kids were playing – so we had to call them over to stuff their animals so they could take them home as their party gift! I love the button eyes on the dog with the multicoloured floss.

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And then Sunday was Easter day, and the kids had their egg hunt inside the house as the garden was a mess from the chicken sitting.

And to come to full circle to the end of the week, we have another open house for the middle school tonight, and this is where we see what the mysterious tweens get up to at school! We showed our appreciation for the teachers and the communication they share, as the kids are not very good messengers!

I really love the quilling of Victini the Pokemon, and the owl – the scary teacher pic at the bottom is a bit dark for me. So it makes me happy that my son is finally doing art and over the summer I have signed him up for a How to draw Manga camp, and I am looking forward to seeing what he creates there. I need to get him ready for the arts and cultural hub of Melbourne!

Now a big breath and onto research for my paper – whew what a week!

Chicken sitting

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This week we are chicken sitting, and we are just loving having a couple of bantam hens in the back garden eating bugs and wandering around. We have a makeshift cage out the back made out of a dog run, and they come inside at night time, just to be safe away from those criminals of the night – the racoons. I have heard some horror stories or racoons and chickens, not good at all. This little cutie is Nova, and she belongs to another friend in the chicken project, so we are taking extra care of her.

Sunday we met our friends from Oakland in the San Francisco Botanical Gardens and I just love this place. Unfortunately, it was full of people looking at their phones participating in a worldwide Pokemon Go tournament. So we walked carefully on the paths making sure we did not run into the Pokemon Go peeps not paying attention to where they were going.

Our first stop in the garden was the Austalia and New Zealand section of plants, and it was like being at home, so we added a lyrebird sound effect to make it seem like we were back in Oz. The ferns were amazing, and the Lilly pilly (bottom centre picture) was in bloom, and they looked delicious and apparently they can be eaten! It really made me homesick and being among native flora really makes you feel like you are there.

We wandered over to the neighbours across the meadow to find a wonderous redwood grove, and it felt just like hiking in the redwoods. The redwood sorrel was in full bloom after all the rain, and the meadow nearby was filled with little white daisy-like flowers.

We kept on coming back to the Australian section each time finding something new like the native Holly which was funny. The kids said look, Holly, this is you! Plus we saw old man Banksia in its stages of growth with its spiky leaves.

The kids were hanging for ice cream as the botanical garden was not as exciting for them as it was for the adults. We then found the twirl and dip ice cream truck across the way and went on over to the Shakespeare garden for an afternoon of flowers and sonnets, it makes me want to read some Shakespeare in my spare time.

Back at school/work today and the kids in the kindergarten class are ready for their next project – bees! It is going to be super exciting with their first exploration of drawing their impression of what a bee looks like to them in their art class this afternoon.

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Later in the afternoon, I wandered over to City Hall to check out the art exhibition from our Arts Focus kids, and I found Ms Hollys beautiful tapestry purse. I will have to find out how she made this little beauty!