Tuesday, June 16, 2015

chinatown, 2015...

 chinatown can be overwhelming to the senses.
it can also be a bit disarming to the jaded traveler,
who doesn't want to be hawked anything, charged for taking pictures, or deluged in cheap.

no doubt, chinatown will deliver on all of those points.
it will jade your jaded soul that much more.

but if you dig deeper, look further, walk longer -
you will start to understand the heart of chinatown.

i would suggest looking up, see the details, notice the way people live.
because this is a neighborhood -
crowded with tourists -
but a neighborhood, none-the-less.

stop anywhere on grant street to buy up some tchotchkes for the kiddos, friends and people you hate.
(joke, but not)
but then go further. 

take the side allies,
notice the art everywhere.
murals are kind of my thing.

chinatown does not disappoint.

bring singles.
chinatown is a cash only paradise.
it is also an enclave for an elderly community that needs support.

look for the odd.

but make sure to announce that you are as tourist-y as is possible.  ;)
sorry, but my little family was headed to the giants game later that day -
so, we we're sore thumbs.
luckily chinatown is full of sore thumbs.

more art.

art and real life.
chinatown, defined.
oh, and the smell of amazing food.
all of that, combined.

listening and surviving the historic walking tour.
in need of chapstick.

this is ernie ng.
the library offers free historic walking tours in san francisco.
it is highly worth the lengthy (2+ hours) lecture.
charlie barely survived.

portsmouth square had so many hidden moments,
a neighborhood's living room playing out under an overcast sky,
surrounded by life, color.
aged and aging.

walk and listen and take lots of pictures. 
tours give you an excuse to stop and look around, look up and learn more.
plus, a historic chinatown tour means an historic san francisco tour.
it all started there.

there is a duality, a stepping back surrounded by the step forward.

memorials abound,
all deep with meaning and worth knowing.

chinese regentrification means harkening to the past,
insincerity mixed with nuance.

allies, walk down them all.
peek in every butcher shop, flower shop and factory.

beer lanterns, underwear and overpopulation.
look up.
see how people live, worth it every time.

we finally made our way down a quiet alley,
arriving at a taoist temple/shrine.
family worship explained.


symbolism and luck from the ancestors.
oh, and incense. 
lots of incences.
(smelled like high school, sigh)

stockton street is where it's at,
where the locals are.
but it is busy and cameras are not welcome.
simply a moment.

architecture and details.

fortune cookie factory.
money for pics,
jaded over a bit...but understandable.
also, avoidable.
so, there's that.


starving, we found a family friendly - SUPER CHEAP - restaurant.
everything was piping hot and wonderful.
a nose to tail menu you'll want to come back and explore.
(i still am waiting to do a dim-sum tour with my sisters one day)

and here are my two buddies ready to head off to the game a mere hour later.
they were pumped, prepped and ready.
nick has been taking the kids over to the standing only observation deck for a while -
but this time we checked out what was available on stubhub (awesome),
and these two were able to go to a game.  

so, san francisco is one of my towns -
but it is nice to get out and do the tourist thing with my family.
it's all new to them and it makes it new to me.  

or at least, use it as an excuse to dig deeper, go below the surface and check out all of the art.
san fran is as full of art as it is good food.
come and check it out.  

it will take years to see it all, understand it all -
but it's worth getting to know. 
especially chinatown -
where it all started.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

summer schooling...

between yard work, family jogs, dishwasher unloading, room cleaning...
(you know, the normal life stuff)
we are managing to squeeze in some summer school. 
today was a lot of math and a bit of science with friends.  
luke was able to give a very thorough oral report (with full on british accent) on owls -
and then we got to go to work "digging" our small vermin out of pellets.  

what i love about summer school -
the fact that we can change it up, go deeper, take our time, get creative.  
most of the traditional school year is spent progressing through a number of curriculum -
(even though i am a bit loosey-goosey with adhering to curriculum),
but we get a rhythm going and once we wrap some of that up in the spring, it's time to have fun.  

here are some of the areas we are going to focus on this summer:

math - we have a new supplemental curriculum that we are trying and so far, it is amazing.  we will also be doing our daily dreambox and checking in on last year's reviews as we go throughout the summer.

language arts - the kids sort of take care of this themselves with all of their comic strips, journaling and books.  we will be starting a new family read-aloud soon, continuing all of our books on tape for road trips and really trying to tackle a few history projects.  we are also going to finish up the book of mormon any day now...and since we are a bit tuckered out with that repetition, i am hoping that we can tackle the new testament or selected books from the old testament for a bit of variety before fall arrives and we jump back into our routine.   

history - we are creating a digital timeline as we read "the founder's son", which has been amazing so far.  we are also catching the kids up on a bunch of amazing documentaries nick and i have been wanting to show them.  

music - we will be doing a bunch of theory and memorization work this summer.  we are also starting a fun mini-course on the great composers.  and since dad is home, guitar lessons will be happening.

art - art never ends here.  though, i am hoping to tackle an on-line oil painting class with charlie.  she will also be doing an art class with a friend.  both of them demand art nearly every day, so this will probably continue on as normal.  i also have a great photography mini-class i am going to do for them (especially since it is on of my many passions).

science - phew! we made it through a tough year of units - and we're not even close to being done.  i really, really, really need to finish some of the extra anatomy units with the kids while we are fresh.  but mostly, we want to play with robotics and circuitry and dissections.  there is less of a unit-based plan here and more of a wrap-up-some-of-the-leftover-projects thing happening.  science is just about as important as art is around here.  everyone is always bugging me for more and i am always looking for a day off.  good thing teachers-pay-teachers exists and there are so many great foldables for science journals!  it helps to feel like we did a little bit of what the kids wanted but without pulling out all of our gear and books and computers!

spanish - well, i am starting to tackle this once more.  my kids have great natural accents and good memorization.  i just need to be better about talking more in front of them and quizzing them as we go.  charlie and i have been doing this a bit more when we are together - whether i am brushing the rats out of her hair or we are cleaning her room.  we will continue to use pimsleur and see how far we can get.  

hmmm, i know there is more...but these are the basics of what we do.  
we stop going upstairs and devoting hours and hours to our routine,
and mostly throw in projects and assignments in the middle of playing, cleaning and swimming.  
it's going to be a good summer.  

how about you?
do you like to stop and have a traditional summer or do you like to "year round" it like we do?
there's no wrong or right answer, just what works for every family.  
i'm just curious.