Norton Simon Museum

May 22, 2011

I arranged a field trip to the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, CA. Here are some pictures of our time in the sculpture garden.

Mishy by the lily pond, eating her red apple.

A mother duck with her ducklings.

Mishy with Y and J watching the tadpoles.

Mishy and I love going to art galleries. I let her decide what she wants to see and then we talk about what we see in the paintings and sculptures – the different colors, shapes, what she sees in the painting, what the painting might be called, what do you think the artist is trying to convey or not, any feelings that come out of seeing the painting? I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer, because art is subjective and it’s just fun looking at art together and also be in nature. The Norton Simon Museum has a beautiful and peaceful sculpture garden.

Details:

Norton Simon Museum

http://www.nortonsimon.org/

Mishy inspired by a Rodin sculpture.

Notice the legs and feet? Those are Mishy's.

As part of my need to build community, I organized an organic strawberry picking tour at Tanaka Farms in Irvine, CA. Over thirty parents and children of various ages joined my daughter and me on a wagon ride throughout the farm as our guide brought us an array of organic and incredibly fresh fruits and vegetables to sample and learn about. How do you know if something is a fruit? If it has seeds. Is a pepper a fruit? Yes. A squash? Yes. How about a cucumber or avocado or even zucchini? All fruit because they all have seeds. What is the one vegetable that has flowers? Chinese greens. This tour was educational and delicious.

Mishy eating the roots of a spring onion.

Two years ago, my husband, daughter and I went on this very same tour. Our daughter wasn’t even a year old so I wanted to bring her back. My husband had to work. Perhaps this will become an annual tradition? I would love that. I think my daughter would love it too. Maybe next year my husband will join us? He still remembers the sweet spring onions and he normally detests onions. Mishy nibbled on the roots of the spring onion. She said they were sweet. (Later I went home and used the onions for a shrimp broccoli brown rice dish.)

When we got off the wagon and onto the organic strawberry fields, after a quick tutorial on how to pick strawberries – with two hands and with care so that you are just breaking the stems off and not hurting the rest of the plant, especially if there are any flowers on the plant because each flower is a potential strawberry. The group walked carefully along the strawberry fields and ate as many strawberries as our bellies could contain. The tour includes one pound container of strawberries per child and while the parents were eating, the children were adding to their containers. Mishy said she was on a quest to find the most delicious strawberry in the world. Right before we were to go back on the wagon, Mishy found it and ate it and said, “I just had the most delicious strawberry in the world!” Mishy told this to the tour guide as well.

Mishy on the organic strawberry fields.

Tanaka Farms has been offering tours of their certified organic farm for a number of years and they have it down to a science. It’s really a fun and educational adventure on a real working organic farm in Orange County.

Here are a few tips about organic farming: Tanaka Farms plants their strawberries with their spring onions to deter insects and other animals from eating their strawberries. Want an easy way to stimulate this in your home garden? Crush a clove of garlic. Mix it with water and put it in a spray bottle. Spray the strawberry plant or any plant in your garden to deter insects from eating in. Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do about rabbits eating your vegetables or fruits – maybe read Peter Rabbit by Beatrice Potter?

A scarecrow with our guide by banana trees.

I remember when I was younger my favorite field trips were going to the farm. I dressed in my jean jacket and jeans and wished I could live on a farm. Now, I wish my daughter and I could go visit Tanaka Farms once a week and continue to find the best strawberry in the world. I’ll be organizing a watermelon tour for July. Details to be posted on the FieldTripsSOCAL yahoo group.

Details:

Tanaka Farms

They offer organic strawberry tours yearly from March-June, watermelon tours where you pick your own watermelon from June-August as well as Pick Your Own Pumpkin tour in the fall and a Christmas tour in the winter. Please check their website for other special events and information on their CSA – to get organic produce delivered to your home or near your home and continue supporting Tanaka Farms and organic farming.

http://www.tanakafarms.com/

African Cats!

April 21, 2011

I’ve been so excited about this film. For months, I have been anticipating Earth Day – April 22nd, 2011 because that is the official opening of Disney Nature’s African Cats. It’ll be showing at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood for numerous performances throughout the day. Prior to each show, Wildlife Learning Center will be presenting their wild animals on stage. Wildlife Learning Center is a locale not for profit animal rescue organization located in Sylmar, CA. (They offer family visits as well as educational tours for pre-schools, schools, homeschoolers, and any children and children at heart organization/group.)

If you purchase tickets to see African Cats in its first week, a portion of your ticket sale will be donated to help preserve wild animals in Africa to African Wildlife Foundation.

Today, Today, I just saw on Family Finds they are having a deal today – $16 for  2 admission to see African Cats, plus $5 to spend at the Disney store near El Capitan theatre.  This is an excellent and affordable opportunity to see this educational and entertaining movie. African Cats is rated G and is a documentary. Please see all aspects of the deal via  this link:

http://fmlyfnd.us/hNv1mP

We will be going on Monday, April 25th because I arranged a field trip for 40 of my community of friends and family – prior to hearing about this deal!

For those unfamiliar with the El Capitan Theatre, parking is very easy and affordable. If you park at the Hollywood Highland Complex, which is across the street, parking is $2 for four hours and the El Capitan validates. Go walk up to the street level, cross the street and you will find the El Capitan Theatre. It’s beautiful in a Hollywood, glamourous night at the movies way.

I was recently given a copy of Scholastic Book Treasures, Tikki Tikki Tembo and More Stories to Celebrate Asian Heritage, to review in anticipation of celebrating Asian Heritage Month, which is in May. I was especially interested in watching these stories with my daughter, who is half Asian. While both my daughter and I have consistently enjoyed viewing  Scholastic Book Treasures DVD collection for their entertainment and educational qualities, I was surprisingly touched by this collection.

Here is a summary of our favorite stories in this collection.

The Journey Of My Grandfather, written and illustrated by Allen Say, reminded me of my journey of identity in the two worlds I had considered “home” during my formative years. I came to Canada when I was 2.5 years old and when I was 19 years old, I visited Korea for the first time since my immigration. In Korean, little things fit – the juices and snacks came in smaller containers, and of course, the clothes fit. Yet, everywhere I went, Korean shop owners asked me if I was Japanese. They said while I looked Korean, there was something different about me. And when I returned back “home” to Canada, I still continued to feel something was missing. In Korea, I was homesick for the country I left and in Canada, I was not completely at home. The Journey Of My Grandfather is a much more uplifting story than mine – it simply tells a story of how a man and subsequent generations of his family find their home.

My daughter has enjoyed The Stonecutter, written and illustrated by Gerald McDermott for a couple of years. This version features the same illustrations and bold adaptation of this Japanese folk tale about a stonecutter’s wish to become more powerful. Mishy was fascinated to see the story re-told.

After we first played Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story From China, my daughter wanted me to play it again and again. She loved the story of the three sisters who out-wit a wolf while their mother goes to visit their grandmother. Since I am the youngest of three daughters, it reminded me of the many times my oldest sister was left in charge while my parents were away.

Tikki Tikki Tembo and More More Stories to Celebrate Asian Heritage features stories by Allen Say, Karen Chinn, Gerald McDermott, Katherine Paterson, Ed Young, and Arlene Mosel with work by illustrators, Allen Say, Gerald Mc Dermott, Ed Young, Blair Lent, Leo & Diane Dillo, Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu. The stores are narrated by Ming-Na Wen and B.B. Wong.

*Natural Traveling Momma is excited to giveaway one copy to a lucky reader of Tikki Tikki Tembo and More Stories to Celebrate Asian Heritage. To enter, please comment below. For an additional entry, please click on the link below and once again comment below. This giveaway ends on April 30th, 2011 at 5PM. Good luck!

UPDATE: Congratulations, Sarvi!

Details:

Tikki Tikki Tembo and More Stories to Celebrate Asian Heritage

http://www.newkideo.com/scholastic/tikki-tikki-tembo-and-more-favorite-tales/

Going to the Farm Walk

April 17, 2011

Pierce College Farm Walk

I impressed my husband when we attended Pierce College’s Farm Walk. This is an annual event where they turn their 235 acre animal learning/teaching center into a farm. They had wagon rides, a petting zoo, an equestrian show, pony rides, students walking around with animals – a parrot, a python snake were two we saw, as well as food – including farmers market fresh strawberries, which we gobbled up, and a special surprise – a guest found a baby opossum.

Mishy feeding the Momma goat.

Mishy gathering hay to feed the wild burros.

Pierce College recently brought the wild burros from Nevada to protect the goats and cows from coyotes. Coyotes are scared of them.

Cows grazing.

They do sell the cows for beef to raise funds for their school. This Farm Walk is one of their many fundraisers they have throughout the year. Just to cover the cost of feed, they need to raise over $50, 000. Due to budget cuts, they have been forced to close down and lessen some of their stock of animals. They currently only have one pig because it was too costly for them. They did recently open up a chicken coop.

A tractor.

Wild sheep.

The animals are able to graze on much of their 235 acre property and the students are continuously planting seeds to grow into grass so they don’t just depend on hay as their primary source of food for the animals. The animal college would like to become as self-sufficient as possible.

Taking a rest.

Walking through the fields.

On the wagon ride.

Touching the Do Not Touch pretend horse.

Finding a baby opossum

Mishy petting the baby opossum

Playing with the hoola hoop set for a pretend horses and children to jump through.

Farm folk, fire fighters and the Forestry Division of the Los Angeles Fire Department, and the group, California Woman for Agriculture and Agriculture in the Classroom were also on hand to answer any questions.

Details:

Pierce College

http://www.piercecollege.edu/

Mishy hiding in the wooden pyramid.

On Friday, I organized three tours of 200 people in total to visit a local matzah factory located in Westwood, near UCLA. It’s part of my need to offer families educational and fun experiences.

Every year for ten days, as a lead up to Passover, a local Chabad gives the opportunity for children and adults of all ages to watch a re-enactment of the exodus of Israelites from Egypt and then let all the children make matzah. It is a secret field trip destination for those in the know – if you’re not affiliated with a Jewish organization.

Moses telling us his words from God.

The first room we sat in was decorated with images of pyramids, with a wooden pyramid/door. When we entered, my daughter quickly wanted to go inside pyramid and hide. We hid until I had to check people in and then short video played where we went back in time and met Moses, who told us God has mentioned it was time for him to ask the Pharaoh to free the Israelites in  Egypt. He said we must all go to see the Pharaoh and if he doesn’t free the Jews, to boo him.

Moses mentioning the coming plagues.

We were led into another room where we met Pharaoh and his sidekick. This section, while informative, had some humor I wished could have been left out – references to Charlie Sheen and other current events that took me out of the re-enactment. Being a mother of a three-year old, there were also certain aspects of the plague I would have liked if it were handled simpler. That being said, I was impressed with the actor’s commitment and production values. The Chabad didn’t skimp.

Exiting Egypt.

After the Pharaoh agreed to free the Jews, we were free to learn about making matzah.

Mishy feeding the ram wheat.

Another actor, dressed as a farmer, introduced his ram and talked about why matzah was made – because the Israelites did not have time to make bread due to the time constraint in leaving Egypt. He then talked to us about the ingredients of matzah – any type of flour and water and showed us how to separate the wheat from its chaff. We all got a chance to do that with our own individual piece of wheat.

Grinding the wheat kernels.

Asking for two volunteers, he demonstrated how to grind the wheat kernels into flour and then lead us into another room where another volunteer got us well water.

Is that a nail in the water?

Mixing flour with water and getting his hands dirty, he told us how long it takes to bake matzah – 18 minutes.

Mixing the flour with water.

Finally, it was time for all the children who wanted to, to make their own matzah and we were led to our final room – the bakery!

Rolling the dough.

Each child was given a work station with a small amount of dough, a rolling-pin, and a special instrument to create holes into the flattened dough.

Putting the holes into the dough.

Carrying the raw matzah to the baker.

Placing the raw matzah on the pan.

The baker puts it in the oven.

Then we ate the matzah! No pictures of that. We were too busy eating. Mishy said it was yummy.

Mishy holding on to her Media Pass as people set up to break the world record.

How many people can fit under a bubble? On Monday, April 4th, 2011, it was 118 and a new Guinness Book of World Record for Fan Yang, Bubble Master extraordinaire at the Discovery Science Center in Santa Ana. Mishy and I were invited to be one of the many people inside the bubble. When we arrived after the quota of children under five feet tall was already filled, we became part of the Press. Mishy wore her own Media Pass. It’s a different perspective being part of the press. We were treated differently. Instead of waiting in line to get inside the Bubblefest tent, we were able to walk right in and there was food for us to snack on. Mishy had a bit of a sandwich before she mingled while photographers took pictures of her. They called her cute.

Fan Yang being interviewed.

Being a reporter felt like being on a movie set. There was a lot of waiting. The photographers waited with their cameras sitting on the seats, while newscasters and reporters interviewed Fan Yang. I opted not to interview him, because I felt kind of funny being surrounded by reporters from major news stations. Instead, I interviewed a mom, Olga, who had been going to see the Bubblefest shows for ten years and was extremely excited to be part of the world record with her son. Olga said she found out about the event by the Discovery Science Center’s website and would have arrived earlier to check in if she parked in the other Macy’s parking lot. Unfortunately, the mishap caused her to arrive later and her daughter didn’t make the quota. Her youngest daughter wasn’t able to participate inside the bubble due to her size. She sat with us as the 118 walked on stage to take their place in history.

Pricilla, the host of Bubble Fest.

Priscilla, the host of Bubblefest appeared and started the proceedings. Groups of people made their place on stage and waited as others got into position.

Fan Yang preparing the bubbles for the Guinness Book of World Record.

Once everyone was on stage, Fan Yang, fluffed up the bubble solution which had already been placed around the edges of the stage by his assistants. He then attempted three times to break the world record. Once the world record was confirmed, more bubbles filled the stage as we all celebrated.

118 people inside a bubble to break the Guinness Book of World Record.

Mishy playing with the bubbles.

Fan Yang and his co-workers with the owner of Discovery Science Center and the representative from Guinness with his official certificate of his achievement.

After the celebration, Mishy and I headed inside to play. Discovery Science Center is a fun, educational experience. Currently, the temporary exhibit, Sesame Street Presents: The Body, is one of the highlights for us. Throughout the day, visitors are able to meet Elmo. I wrote about our time at the exhibit in another blog post: Elmo, Idolatry, and Never Let Me Go – http://wp.me/pN7Op-iu

Mishy lying on a bed of nails.

After visiting Elmo, we naturally lay on a bed of nails. Mishy went first and she gave me instructions – “Put your arms around yourself like you’re hugging Momma. Put your legs together and don’t move.” She said the nails tickled a little. I told her the nails hurt me. They were sharp. She didn’t find it so.

We then spent time in the earthquake room, took in the Bubblefest show and went back home to Santa Monica. Well, first, Mishy picked out a large T-Rex dinosaur figurine. She hugged it while she dozed off in the car as I drove and missed most of rush hour traffic.

Need more information about Bubblefest? Here’s the link: http://www.discoverycube.org/programs.aspx?q=74

* Natural Traveling Momma is excited to be giving away 4 tickets to see Bubblefest 15: A Mega Dose of Bubbles as well as entry tickets to Discovery Science Center – a retail value of over $100 to one lucky winner. The tickets are for any Bubblefest show on April 21st, 2011. To enter, please comment below. To gain an additional entry, click on to the Discovery Science Center and comment below again. The contest ends on April 12th, 2011 at midnight. Good luck!

www.discoverycube.org