Today, Mishy and I attended an extremely fun and silly show by Jumbo Shrimp Circus. It surprised me how much I enjoyed it because it isn’t the kind of theatre I tend to enjoy – it isn’t high brow, or philosophical, or emotional or intellectual – it’s fun and silly and you leave the theatre with a bit more practical knowledge of how to become a clown – through practice and start juggling with scarves!

When you enter the theatre, you are greeted by Epoxie, who is cleaning the stage. He is a friendly, slightly melancholy clown who welcomes you, asks your name and lets you know, you can do whatever you like during the show – you can leave, you can walk on stage, you can eat popcorn – which they sell in the lobby and Mishy goggled up – you and your child are free to enjoy yourself and not be restricted. Epoxie isn’t a particularly a talented clown. I think that’s part of his charm. (Philip Briggs, who plays Epoxie performed at Barnum and Bailey Circus.) His lack of “ability” tells the audience it’s fine to make mistakes and I love that message.

The show is completely interactive – audience members are free to sit on stage – which we did, participate in some of the clowning – which everyone did and enjoy in the mayhem. My daughter spinned a plate on a stick today! (I wish I brought a camera.)

Jumbo Shrimp Circus has only two performances left – Wednesday, January 26th, 2011 and Friday, January 28th, 2011 – both shows are at 10:30AM. This show is geared for preschoolers and adults who want to play like preschoolers. The show is one hour long and the time goes by quickly.

To buy tickets, here is the link:

There are places we go to because I love watching Mishy play. There are places I love because I get to explore with Mishy and learn things I have forgotten long ago and there are some places I never want to leave and wish I was a child again so I can spend days playing by running in the grass, petting and feeding the animals, listening to music, being in nature, playing ping pong, throwing the basketball into the basket, eating popcorn, making pita bread, trying new and adventurous things, and just being joyful. Shalom Institute is one of those rare places in which spending seven fun filled hours seem much too little. We would have stayed longer except the event we were there for was only five hours long. (They were very gracious in letting us leave slowly.) We have found Mishy’s summer camp – in a few years when she’s six years or older. In the meantime, we will be visiting Shalom Institute at all of their festivals throughout the year and may stay with them for a weekend during one of the family camps. (Their next family camp is in May.) We were at Shalom Institute this Sunday for their annual Tu B’Shvat Festival – a festival to celebrate the birth of trees. Here is a photo essay of our time there.

Feeding one of their two ponies.

Petting a goat while he scratches a tree.

Relaxing together

The animals at Shalom Institute are friendly, yet respectful and you can trust them completely. I felt very safe letting Mishy roam around in the animal stall.

Watching others jump in one of two bouncy houses which were set up for the event.

Touching a Tegu lizard, native to Argentina, brought by Reptile Family

Reptile Family is a family owned business set up to educate children of all ages about reptiles, amphibians, and arthropods. They visit schools, preschools, and do birthday parties and corporate events.

Making a wax mold of Mishy's hand - trial run

Holding the wax mold of her hand

Wax Creation’s hand molds were very popular throughout the day. Mishy still cannot stop looking, touching and comparing her mold.

Watching the lemonade smoothie being made by man power

Drinking lemonade

Mishy and Babba connecting while eating popcorn

Watching Robbo perform

Robbo, a Parent’s Choice winner and father was one of the highlights of the stage shows.

Posing with a Burmanese Python

Shaping the dough to make pita bread

Cooking the pita bread on a hot stone


For their camp programs, including an upcoming Women’s Retreat in March:

Reptile Family:

Wax Creations – which makes rainbow wax molds:

Robbo – Parent’s Choice Winner:

Newborn, Daniel, born Jan 9th, 2011.

Mishy and I haven’t been to the Santa Barbara Zoo yet, but we are terribly excited to go. Mishy is fascinated by giraffes and they have daily giraffe feedings from 11:30AM-2:30PM. They also recently announced the birth of Daniel, born on January 9th, 2011. He weighed 109 lbs and measured 5 feet, 9 inches tall. He will not be available for viewing for several weeks.

They also have baby otters.

For the people in your life who are fans of Princesses, they have an upcoming Princess Day.


Saturday, 3/12, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (9 a.m. Entry for SB Zoo Members Only)

Free with Zoo admission.

They jump! They sing! They turn into princes (though this is extremely rare). What better time than the day the clocks “spring forward” to celebrate the world’s many and varied frogs and amphibians? There are frog-inspired crafts, games and special animal appearances. All costumed princesses welcome – meet Cinderella, Snow Whiteand Sleeping Beauty! Plus, find out how Amphibian Ark and zoos and aquariums are working together to save the world’s amphibians.

They also have a Zoo Train, Carousel, Kellman Family Center, Barnyard, among other very fun activities and locations within the zoo!

I am happy to be able to give away a family pass (up to 4 people). Please leave a comment to enter. This giveaway ends on midnight on January 31st, 2011.

Here are some videos from Santa Barbara Zoo:

The Santa Barbara zoo represents over 600 animals from 18 species on 16 acres.

You can find them on Twitter and Facebook.

Here’s their direct website:

If you like them on Facebook, leave another comment and you will get an additional entry. If you follow them on Twitter, leave another comment and you will get another entry. If you click on to their website, leave another comment and you will get one more entry – for a total of 4 entries per person.

Good luck!

Love giveaways? We’re still giving away an Organic Variety Sampler from Peeled Snacks until Feb. 1, 2011.

UPDATE: Congratulations, Kathy – you’ve won the four pack of tickets!

When Mishy was born, my sister brought this toy from Holland. From that day onwards, we have played with Moo Cow – Mishy named it that. It is one of her favorite toys and she rides it everyday in the house – taking it with her to take a bath – Moo Cow waits by the tub, to sleep – she waits by the bed, and even on car rides when Mishy wants some extra comfort. As soon as she could, she started riding on it. At first, we rode on it while she laughed and then she sat on it while we pushed her, but once her feet touched the ground, she went fast! There have been times when other children were over and it was hard for Mishy to let others take a turn on Moo Cow so she asked us to let the parents know, which we did. There have been other times when it was perfectly fine for her to let other children play the whole time they have been over and as a parent, yes, I was happy to see my daughter share her toys – when I know sharing is very hard to do at any age. (I never ask her to share. I do sometimes request if she can take turns, and there is usually a positive response but when there isn’t one, it’s fine because truth be told, sometimes I don’t want to take turns with my things either.)

Now that Mishy is approaching her third birthday, I don’t know how much longer she will be riding Moo Cow – though I’m sure she will always have a place in our home. Yes, we have a balance bike and scooter and roller skates and now a tricycle for Mishy  – she asked for one for her birthday and it came early – but the lure of Moo Cow is still very strong. Tonight, after I assembled the new tricycle, Mishy rode Moo Cow and here are the photos:

Side view of Moo Cow which catches Babba eating his nighttime snack of cereal.

Mishy watching the "waterfall" outside the Smothers Theatre at Pepperdine

Mishy and I went to see L.A. Opera’s production of Who Wants To Be An Opera Singer by Mark Saltzman. This performance was at Pepperdine Performing Arts Center in their Smothers Theatre. We received tickets through their Arts Education program which offers tickets to under privileged schools in the Los Angeles area. Once local schools have responded for ticket requests, remaining tickets are given to the homeschooling community and we are lucky to be part of several homeschooling communities. This program is sponsored by US Bank.

I’ve been looking forward to seeing this show because there are many things I enjoy in life and opera is one of them. I love the passion, the costumes, the drama and the singing. The beauty of the human voice really presents themselves in opera since opera is an extended dramatic composition in which all words are sung together. I felt this show would be a perfect opportunity to introduce live opera to Mishy since it is aimed for all ages. She has been listening to opera at home and in the car and when we play it, she listens intently. I also want her to be surrounded by languages – to hear the wonder and power of words in different cultural contexts – and understand the different ways of expressing them.

Who Wants To be An Opera Singer is set up as a game show where three contestants are “selected” from the audience. It introduces the contestants and hosts by their different vocal range  – soprano, mezzo soprano, tenor, and baritone and mentions the vocal range – bass. While the contestants are playing, they are also singing. The first song was an excerpt of Madame Butterfly, one of Butterfly’s arias – an aria is a solo – for those new to opera. When the contestant who was playing Butterfly in her minimal costume, started to sing, my daughter perked up, listened intently and watched in amazement. There is nothing that replaces the impact of seeing theatre live. We were privy to excerpts from Carmen, La Traviata, The Barber of Seville, Rigoletto, and Madama Butterfly, while learning about opera. Mishy clapped and yelled, “Bravo! Bravo!” throughout the show – which is encouraged. Afterwards, we sang opera together – as best we could.

There will be a public performance of Who Wants To Be An Opera Singer on Saturday, February 5th, 2011 at the Grand Hall of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion at the Music Center in downtown Los Angeles. Tickets are $15. There is an art workshop at 10AM and the performance is at 11AM. For more information and to buy tickets, here is the link:

Update: I’ve just  been given two tickets to giveaway for the upcoming show of Who Wants To Be An Opera Singer on Feb. 5th at the Grand Hall of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion at the Music Center. Please leave a comment by midnight, February 1st for your chance to win. You will earn an extra entry if you click onto their link and comment that you have.

Good luck!

Update: Congratulations, Tania! You’ve won the 2 giveaway tickets see Who Wants To Be An Opera Singer!

Who Is More Important?

January 18, 2011

My daughter is the most important person in my life. I know this is deep inside me because I choose to have her. I’ve also chosen to parent her in a way where she is as much my guide as I am hers. I have learned so much about my life and my ways watching hers – how free and open she sees the world – without the baggage and hinderance of unmet needs, wants, desires, dreams… I tell her I was waiting for her to be born and my life completely changed when I met her – I had never felt such love for another. Yet, lately, I haven’t shown this to her and she doesn’t feel she is as important as other things in my life – such as my computer.

I’ve been focused on my blog. There is a part of me that wants to do the best I can in everything I do. I have a hard time striving for less. This precision has helped me in life career wise – but that was when my life didn’t include my daughter. Last night, Mishy and I played a game. She stayed in the bedroom while I was in the living room. I had to be on my computer – she would periodically come and check to make sure I was. She then called me from the bedroom and when I didn’t come, she would run to the living room softly – we have neighbors underneath us – grabbed my hand and dragged me into the bedroom while I would say, “I’m working. I have important things to do!” She’d respond, “Someone wants to see you.” And I would say, “Who? Who is taking me away from my work?” By this time, we would be on the bed and she would look in my eyes and say – “Me!” And then I’d say – “Of course! What was I thinking? You’re the most important person in my life!” Then we would hug and I’d say – “Who is more important? The computer or Mishy?” She’d say, “The computer.” And I’d say, “Mishy! Mishy’s the most important person in my life.” We’d talk about how I was waiting for her to be born while she cuddled in my arms. And we played the game again and again as she laughed and jumped and hugged and sweated. She was releasing. We played the game for as long as she wanted to and towards the end, she’d say – “Mishy! Mishy’s the most important person!” And she is.

Now we have an understanding – I will be on my computer when she’s sleeping. I can check throughout the day when she’s playing by herself, but for the stuff that requires more time – when she’s asleep. She still naps. It’s not a problem.


Playful Parenting

Hand In Hand

Scott Noelle – Daily Groove – Unconditional Presence

Peeled Snacks – Giveaway

January 17, 2011

Mishy enjoying her pine-4-Pineapple Peeled Snack

We just got samples of Peeled Snacks in the mail today. Mishy was very excited to taste them. She tried all of the six varieties – Cherry-go-round, pine-4-Pineapple, much-ado-about-Mango, Banan-a-peel, Apricot-a-lot & Apple-2-the-core. Her favorite was pine-4-Pineapple, a close second was Apricot-a-lot, followed ever so closely by Apple-2-the-core – well, frankly, she loved them all and she really has a worldly palette – having traveled around the world and a half in her 2.11 years of life. I do trust her palette because there have been any times when she would try something first and tell me it’s delicious or not and sometimes when it’s not, I’ll still eat it, but she won’t. (That was the case for dinner tonight.) The dried fruit in Peeled Snacks Organic variety pack are incredibly fresh, full of flavor, sulfate free and organic. My favorite is Cherry-go-round. (I didn’t get a chance to try the pine-4-Pineapple because Mishy ate it all because I could even ask for one.) I also like much-ado-about-Mango, Apricot-a-lot – well, I too like all of the flavors and I am sure I would have liked pine-4-Pineapple as well.

Our Peeled Snack Organic Variety Sampler which was quickly opened and eaten! You've got several more life long customers now.

They come in colorful convenient packs which are perfectly portable and yes – when we are traveling and I need a snack, I will buy these – especially when we are in the airport and there are very limited healthy food options. That is one of the reasons why I am glad there are Starbucks at airports – I can always get a herbal ice tea when I am craving something refreshing, not sweetened, and healthy. Now, I will grab a pack of Peeled Snacks or two or three for my journey.

Peeled Snacks are 100% all natural tasty treats of dried fruit and dried fruit and nut mixes with no added sugar or fat. They’ve been featured in O Magazine, Family Circle, Self, Gluten Free Living, Good Housekeeping, Rachel Ray Magazine among others. Good Housekeeping magazine choose Peeled Snacks as a healthy kid-friendly snack “a perfect alternative if your child is tired of raisins — contain one serving of real fruit each and no added sugar or oils. ” They are available at all Starbucks in Canada and the U.S. and I have the pleasure of being able to giveaway an  “Organic Fruit Picks Variety Pack” to the winner – this contains 12 individual snacks. Theses have a retail value of $23.99

The giveaway  is for US addresses only.  You may also find them on Facebook, Twitter, and their website.

To enter, please make a comment. If you like them on Facebook, you will get an additional entry. If you follow them on Twitter, you will get another entry. If you click on to their website, you will get another entry. If you click on to Starbucks’ website, you will get one more entry  – which means you can have up to four entries! (Please comment separately for additional entries.)

Good luck! The contest ends midnight, Feb. 1st, 2011.

UPDATE: Congratulations, Marie. You’ve won the organic sampler pack!