Friday, May 30, 2008

Aliens!?

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is a classic suspend-your-disbelief action flick. Tons of ridiculous fun. Very entertaining.

All through the movie, though, I kept saying to myself, "Please don't let it be aliens, please don't let it be aliens, please don't let it be aliens."

IT WAS ALIENS!!! ARRRGGGHHH!!!

~Steve

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Talent Show, China

A couple of weeks ago, Julie and I got papers to warn us of the upcoming talent show. Everyone got the form that gave the details. There would be twenty acts, and to sign up you needed a parent's signature.

Three days before the tryouts, Julie had the idea to sing a song in Chinese. We heard this song at ChinesePod, where we learn Chinese. So we practiced and practiced over the weekend.

When Monday arrived, we had to do the tryouts after school. We had to try out first, which made us more nervous to begin with. To top that off, our CD did not work, so we had to sing a capella.

We got the vibe that we were in, so we kept practicing. We chose our clothes and decided how to get the music on.

Soon the day of the talent show arrived. J and I were act 18 and to our surprise, Dad was there! When our turn arrived, we walked out nervously. Then the music started and we started singing. When the song was over, we got a standing ovation. Afterwards, everyone told us how good we were. We were very happy after that and for some time to come.

~Zoli

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Famous Artist Study

This is a report I did for school:

For my famous artist report, I have chosen to study Pablo Picasso, an abstract artist. Picasso had many eras in his lifetime but I will focus on his most famous style of painting, cubism. One of the reasons I chose Picasso is that I have always had a great appreciation for his styles of art. To me, abstract art shows the same amount of talent in an artist as any realistic painter. Picasso's choice as to where he places individuals in his paintings and how he gives the features in his paintings unique looks and feelings had always interested me. He developed over time, a special way to make the objects in his paintings take a form that they never could in the real world. This aspect of his paintings has attracted me to Picasso's unique styles and that is the reason I have studied Picasso's life and paintings for this project.

In Spain on October 25, 1881, Pablo Picasso was born the child of an art educator. It was apparent from a young age that Pablo had an extreme ability in painting. He went to an artists' school in Barcelona where he excelled. As an adult, he began painting in different styles. His first period is known as the Blue Period and those paintings all have blue color schemes. This style lasted only four years before Picasso moved on. His next period is called the Rose Periods but it only lasted a year. These paintings have a rosy color scheme and are happier in feeling. The most distinct period in Picasso's life was his cubist period. He developed this style with George Braque and Juan Gris. His other period of painting was called the NeoClassic Period and these paintings were more realistic. Picasso also painted cubist style pictures of war because he lived during World Wars I and II. Throughout Picasso's life, he had four children and became good friends with many famous artists. He died on April 8, 1973.

In Picasso's paintings, he used oil paints as his medium. Oil paints typically take a long time to dry but blend nicely together, making the perfect paint for painting people. Picasso often also made use of the brightness of oil paints, especially in his later paintings. In my masterpiece, I used acrylic paint as my medium. Unlike oil paints, acrylic paints take much less time to dry. They too, however, blended into one another easily and were bright enough for me to imitate Picasso's colorful style. Using these paints, I was also able to mimic Picasso's cubist styles and the subjects of his paintings.

Picasso used many different objects as the subject matter for his paintings. In his most unique style of painting, cubism, he used several different types of subjects to paint. In his early cubist period, Picasso painted people, still lifes of fruit, and scenes of forests or cities. In his Analytical Cubist period. Picasso painted people and instruments and in his Synthetic Cubist period, he painted many kinds of household scraps and made collages that looked like instruments. He painted all of these things using solid shapes to form a larger picture. This use of geographic figures is what distinguishes the style of cubism from other styles. The subjects of Picasso's paintings vary, depending on the period of his paintings but these were the main images he pictures in his cubist period.

In my masterpiece, I chose to use Picasso's cubist style of painting and a subject matter that I could relate with, to paint. I painted a still life of a beach scene using geometric shapes like triangles, squares, rectangles, and trapezoids. I also used crooked angles to make my painting look more abstract. Although Picasso didn't paint still life beach scenes very often, I did find one with a person lying on the beach so the subject of my paintings does relate to one of his paintings.

Picasso used a variety of models to paint his paintings. When he did a portrait of a person, he would have the person pose for him while he painted. Anytime he painted a still life of a household object, it was something in his house that he could look at. Although he looked at models for his paintings, Picasso also added aspects to them that he came up with using imagination. For example, he might add shapes to a person's head that make them look more abstract in his cubist style. Picasso used this combination to form his own vein of art.

Although Picasso used both models and imagination in his works of art, I solely relied on my own creativity in my masterpiece. I chose my subject, an ocean scene, because I knew it was something that I could paint in the cubist style of Picasso. I also enjoy going to the beach and painting a beach is easy for me since I have been to so many of them. The way I chose to paint my masterpiece is different from the way Picasso finished his but I still followed the style of cubism that Picasso used often in his paintings. I appreciate Picasso's outstanding techniques and methods and he is one of the great contributors to modern art.

~Julie

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

To Home School or Not to Home School...

That is the question.

Now that we know where we're going, our first order of business is to determine where the kids will go to school. The options are varied and mostly very expensive. The school we are looking into with most interest is BISS, also known as Beijing International School. It is the closest school to Běidà--a 20-30 minute commute. Apparently, all the universities are on the west side of town and all the international schools are on the east side.

Steve and I toyed with the idea of sending them to a local school--I guess that would make them "CHISOL," as opposed to ESOL. The thought of them interacting with the local kids and being immersed in Mandarin sounds fantastic but this may be too challenging for two reasons. First, they probably wouldn't be allowed to attend since these schools are for Chinese kids only from what I've read. And second, this may be so difficult, given that all subjects would be taught in Mandarin except, maybe, English, that it would be counter-productive to our overarching plan of spending a lot of family time together learning about the culture and wonders of China.

This leads to the final option which is to home school. This option has definite pluses and minuses, but is a plausible choice given that Steve and I could collectively cover the curriculum without too much trouble--both of us being educators does have some perks! In addition, our Pastor provided us with information about a program called "Seton," which is actually a Catholic home schooling program recognized by a local diocese.

All in all, this weekend we discussed all the options and are leaning toward a "combination approach." We passed our idea by the kids...BISS for the first semester and home school for the second semester. This would accomplish our goals of having the kids enjoy an international school experience--meeting other kids from around the globe--and the nurturing that a home school experience would provide. I look forward to early rising, thorough learning, and lots and lots of live event learning (also known as "class trips.") There's no substitute for either.

Happily, the kids agree!

~Desi