When Mishy was younger, we visited all of the gardens in the Los Angeles area, including Descanso Gardens – which is a beautiful place for young and old. On the weekend of March 19th and 20th, Descanso Gardens will be holding their annual Cherry Blossom Festival. It tends to be  a big deal with traditional Japanese tea ceremonies, Japanese cooking demonstration, cherry trees for sale, cherry blossom walks, bento box lunches and cherry-themed cocktails at our Camellia Lounge. Fun for young and old.

If you would like to enter the chance to win 2 passes to visit Descanso Gardens any time – not just for the festival, please make a comment. If you visit their website –  http://www.descansogardens.org/ – and make another comment, you will gain an additional entry. (We will be visiting the festival because we are members of the Los Angeles Arboretum, which has a reciprocal agreement – that is another reason why I love being a member of museums and other cultural institutions.)

Good luck. The contest ends midnight, March 1st, 2011.

We were invited to a special media event to celebrate Elmo’s third birthday at the Discovery Science Center in Santa Ana. Currently, they have an exhibit – Sesame Street Presents: The Body in support of Michelle Obama’s stance on healthy eating and exercise to prevent childhood obesity in America. We were given a VIP pass where we could meet and take pictures of Elmo. Mishy didn’t want to leave. She loves Elmo. We don’t have a television, but we let her watch some DVDs and Youtube videos. Two Youtube videos she loves is Pizza Elmo and Elmo on the potty. Her time with Elmo and pure delight in seeing him made me think that celebrity idolatry starts young.

The exhibition itself is hands on and interactive that supports ways to eat and exercise to help a child’s healthy growth. Mishy loves to sing the Raffi song right now, “I’m wondering if I’m growing,” so this exhibit has special meaning to her.

This was our first time at the Discovery Center. While it is far from us, there are several exhibits at the center which are worth the drive. Their earthquake room – with three buttons to push that stimulates difference earthquakes and a video monitor that explains three different earthquakes was fun for my daughter who loves shakes. She laughed while she was sitting in the room while some adults were clearly nervous. Their outdoor rocket exhibit where children can launch rockets into space by using different methods was a particular favorite of mine. I also enjoyed the hand pump which stimulates how blood flows, that is located on the second floor.

Parking is $4 and it is located off the 1-5. Elmo will be visiting every Saturday and Sunday during the run of the Sesame Street Presents: The Body exhibit – which runs to April 2011.



Mishy and I were given a selection of Clif Kids Z Bars and Twisted Fruit to taste and sample. Rebecca, Mishy’s favorite cousin was staying over at the time and sampled the bars with us. Clif Kids Z Bars are made with organic ingredients and contains 12 essential minerals and vitamins without any hydrogenated oils, or corn syrup or preservatives or artificial flavors.

Here is our very subjective take on the different bar flavors.


This was Mishy’s and my overall favorite. The blueberry taste was powerful and tasty. It did taste sweet to me, though it only contains 23 grams of carbs, which, 11 grams is sugar and is made with 9 grams of whole grains.

Honey Graham

Rebecca’s favorite. She found it exactly the right combination of sweet, chewiness, and satisfying. Both Mishy and I liked it as well.

Chocolate Brownie

My daughter is a huge fan of chocolate. This was also a near favorite of hers. Rebecca enjoyed this flavor as well and me, who is not a chocolate fan because when I was younger, someone gave me 6 chocolate bars and I ate them all at once – I liked this flavor too and was surprised I did. Maybe chocolate will have a place in my life once again.

Chocolate Chip

Chocolate Chip was also a favorite of Mishy’s. Rebecca liked the flavor as well and I didn’t get a chance to try any. It went that fast.

Peanut Butter

This one ranked high too. Let’s face it – we liked all of the above flavors almost equally. I was surprised by this because they are pretty tasty and while I try to give my daughter whole fruit and vegetables, sometimes, having a Clif Kids Z Bar will be pretty handy on our adventures.


This was the least liked flavors. Rebecca enjoyed the first chews, but then felt there was a slight aftertaste. Me, being not a big chocolate fan found the bar overly sweet without the same kind of balance I encountered with the Chocolate Brownie bar. Mishy? She liked it. She finished the bar over the next couple of days.

The Organic Twisted Fruit flavors were enjoyed by Mishy alone. She eat them up over the course of this week. She liked all of the flavors equally – Strawberry, Mixed Berry, Grape, Tropical Twist, Pineapple, and Sour Apple. These are great on car trips. Because they are dried fruit, we just make sure to brush her teeth and rinse afterwards.


Clif Bars


They have a variety of adult bars and products too – which I haven’t tried 🙂

I am of two minds about zoos – one – how great it is for people to see animals they could not normally see/have access to  and – two – it’s unfortunate  the animals are locked in. That thought ran through my mind several times while we walked through the San Diego Zoo last Saturday with extended family. (We were in San Diego to celebrate my sister-in-law’s 50th birthday.)

San Diego Zoo is the largest zoological membership zoo in the world, spans 100 acres and is home to 4000 rare and endangered animals. They are committed to conservation – yet, it was difficult for all of us who visited that day to see the lone jaguar behind the clear glass cage pacing back and forth, back and forth, agitated. Mishy kept on asking me, “Why is the jaguar alone?” When I told her some animals like to be alone because they have a need for space, it didn’t satisfy her until I asked her to tell me about the jaguar and she said, “He looks unhappy.”

The giraffe’s, on the other hand looked very happy. Everyday, they are fed biscuits by visitors who each pay $3 for the privilege and get a souvenir photograph.

Mishy also loved the sky tram.

I don’t know if we would re-visit the San Diego Zoo. I am told the San Diego Zoo Safari Park is where you can see animals roaming freely. I do think it was important for us to go since San Diego Zoo is one of the leading zoos in the world. It just makes me sad that animals are saved by being put on public display. Yet, at the same time – it is so important for Mishy to see animals alive instead of just in books – to see how animals move. When we were in Thailand, we visited an elephant conservation where we were able to feed and bath the elephants. That is an experience worth flying to Thailand for and being at the zoo makes me appreciate the experience more and more, especially when we saw the elephants at the San Diego Zoo being locked in a large metal cage, continuously fed, while they had their feet cleaned. (We will be visiting other zoos because visiting zoos/being around animals is important for my daughter.)

Elephant keeper cleaning an elephant while another elephant keeper feeds it.


San Diego Zoo


I am told if you buy a year membership, it is the same price as two adult single day admission.

Watching the bottle nose dolphins swimming by the boat

Every year from December to April, it’s grey whale season in Southern California. This past Friday, on the way to San Diego, Mishy, Babba, Babba’s cousin, Rebecca, who stayed for a night with us, and me set sail on the Nautilus, Newport Landing Sportfishing’s second whale watching boat. What I like about Newport Landing Sportfishing’s whale watching adventures is that it’s pretty hands off. There isn’t constant narration – which I appreciate because I like to hear the waves and take in as much as I can of the natural world – even on a boat run by a motor. We are notified when we are approaching sea life. The engines were turned off so we could simply watch and enjoy and delight in being so close to some of the worlds most intelligent animals and  the most intelligent mammal – dolphins.

Once the dolphins passed us, we are left alone to enjoy the sea air, watch the gentle, ocean waves – it was a beautiful and calm  – and if we got peckish, grab a snack at their snack bar or nosh on the bagful of snacks I brought along. We all shared in two potato and egg burritos at the snack bar which were quite tasty, if not overly healthy – the potatoes were frozen hash browns cut up – to make it somewhat healthier, we asked for no extra salt or pepper since the hash browns are well seasoned.

Bottle nose dolphins swimming beside us.

While we didn’t encounter any whales, we did see about 50 bottle nose dolphins, who swam beside us, and  jumped up in the air. We also saw sea lions lying on the back of a docked boat and on a buoy. Was it disappointing to go whale watching and not see any whales? Not at all. It was enjoyable to be out on a boat and enjoy the sea air. It was so relaxing that both Babba and Rebecca took a short snooze while Mishy and I watched the houses which dotted the shore.  I asked if this was normal not to see any whales and was told it all depends on the day.

Right now, Newport Landing Sportfishing is offering a special deal on their whale watching adventures – $15 instead of their normally priced $30 for a 2.5 hour trip. Here is the link for more details – you may have to cut and paste:

Newport Landing Sportfishing


For more information on Newport Landing Sportfishing, here is their website:


We parked on the street for free – be sure to read the signs. There is lot parking available for $10 a day. Once you park, there is about a 7 minute walk – please take that into consideration. If you experience motion sickness, eating ginger and standing outside is helpful. They do sell motion sickness pills. When we went on the boat, the ocean was very calm.

(Our time on the boat was complimentary.)

My daughter likes to jump. She loves to tell people she’s a jumper and she jumps on our sofa, off our bed and on to a mattress we placed below our bed. We now have a queen sized mattress in our livingroom which she loves to jump on from our sofa. (We’ve had several house guests and will do so for the next couple of weeks.)  She jumps throughout the day with every opportunity she finds. Jumping is incredibly important for toddlers to help create strength and balance so when I heard about Sky High Sports – with it’s wall to wall rooms of trampolines and walls that are trampolines, I thought this is a place to take Mishy and also get my exercise at the same time. (I like to exercise.)

Sky High Sports has five rooms of various sizes where you can jump to your heart’s content. There’s a room devoted to dodge ball, one for children 8 years and under and one you may rent for your private functions. A mother I met at Sky High Sports told me she first heard about Sky High Sports when she came for a friend’s birthday party and now visits once a week because she loves it there. Her kids do too. She also said the birthday party was fabulous.

There is a lot to love at Sky High Sports. It’s a place for the whole family of all ages. It has video games off to the side, an air hockey table and did I mention the five rooms for jumping? One where you can book for your own private party? There are also two rooms upstairs if you want to your function to be at a lower volume – away from the music. The music isn’t too loud once you start jumping. When we were there, Jump by Eddie Van Halen was playing.

Mishy and I jumped for one hour. She was smiling the whole time. She loved that she could jump with her bare feet. (Gyms shoes are allowed during jumping.) If there was a location closer to home, we would be at Sky High Sports everyday because I like to exercise and be with my daughter at the same time. Plus, it was wonderful to see her laughing the whole time we were there.

I am so thankful that Sky High Sports has agreed to giveaway four one hour free jumping tickets to one lucky winner. Please comment if you would like to win. If you visit there website: www.jumpskyhigh.com – and comment once again, you will have an additional entry. Sky High Sports has several locations throughout Southern California as well as several in the state of Washington and one in Portland, Oregon. If anyone is interested in starting a franchise in westside of Los Angeles – please do and you can count on us as regular customers! The reason why I like this place so much is because it’s free open play time of jumping – you can do flips, jump across the room, jump from trampoline to trampoline, jump on to the walls, the possibilities of jumping are endless.

*The giveaway ends midnight, February 28th, 2011. The passes do not have an expiration date and are valid at all locations.

(Full disclosure: our time at Sky High Sports was complimentary.)

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