Mishy with "Dorothy."

On Tuesday, Mishy and I were invited o see The Wizard Of Oz at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza. This outing was arranged by Field Trips 4 Kids, an organization dedicated to providing quality, educational and entertaining shows for children of all ages. I personally was concerned that The Wizard Of Oz would be a bit scary for Mishy because I remember seeing the movie and the flying monkeys scared me. My husband assured me that if it says it’s for all ages, it’s for all ages and the monkeys don’t exist in the musical version. Just to be sure, I let Mishy know I will hide her face if any scary bits come up. She said that would be fine.

This was our first time at an outing by Field Trips 4 Kids and also the first time Mishy saw a musical. She loved it! She sat on my lap and watch and listened. In between scene changes, she hugged and kissed me for taking her to see the show and then once the scene change was over, she quickly sat back on my lap to continue to be entertained. This musical version was pared down and featured a cast of seven – with all cast members doubling roles, except Dorothy. It featured a multiracial cast who all acted and sang with gusto. The songs were different from the movie version, though they had the same spirit. Mishy wasn’t scared at all and neither were others in the audience. It was a truly fun and entertaining show for all ages.

Mishy giving "Lion" a high five.

After the show, Mishy eagerly rushed to meet all of the actors who were waiting outside to greet the audience. She  was fascinated by the Wicked Witch of the West and asked her why she was green – she was born that way. She also asked why she’s so wicked. The answer? “I’m not always wicked. I was just having a bad day.” I was glad to hear even though the characters may be labelled, “wicked” and “good,” in reality, no one is truly “wicked” or “good” and it opened up a discussion with my daughter as we drove home, with a stopover at Noah’s Ark at the Skirball Center – it’s on our way home.

Field Trips 4 Kids has several upcoming shows this year. They include the ballet, Sleeping Beauty, on May 20th, 2011 at 9:30AM and 12 NOON as well as The Super Scientific Funny Stuff Circus on July 13th at 10AM. Tickets are only $10 for groups of 15 or more and $14 for individual tickets. Both shows are recommended for all ages.

Mishy with "Scarecrow" and "Tin Man."

Parking is free and easy – it’s lot parking right by the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza. On the other side of  Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza is a beautiful garden – Gardens of The World, which is free to enter. On the other side of the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza is a mall with plenty of restaurants and a small playground for the children. Visiting either after seeing a show makes for a full, fun, and educational day.


Field Trips 4 Kids


Gardens Of The World


Nadine, an amazing homeschooling mother for her varied and fun field trips, organized a field trip for fellow homeschoolers to visit The Da Vinci Exhibit in Hollywood. It’s an interactive exhibit with replicas of many of da Vinci’s inventions. It includes a military gallery, a transportation gallery, and a mechanical gallery. His inventions include a glider, bicycle, water shoes, and a chamber of mirrors – which was Mishy’s favorite invention. (She loved saying hello and good bye to her and my many reflections.) It was fascinating to go through the galleries and see how his inventions are used today – his mechanical pulley invention for elevators, for example. The exhibit isn’t big and we were able to see the entire exhibit in an hour. There is a short film about Leonardo da Vinci – which we missed – Mishy was more interested in pulling the various levers of the inventions and trying to figure out how they worked. The people who work at the exhibit were incredibly enthusiastic and enjoyed having the museum filled with homeschoolers. One even mentioned, it felt like the best part of Thanksgiving – when all the family is there to play.

Parking is inside the Hollywood and Highland Center. It’s $2 for 4 hours of parking. Be sure to get your tickets validated before exiting the exhibit. There are plenty of places to eat in the area – including Chado Tea Room at the h.Wood – I love the simple elegance and restful quality I feel at the various Chado Tea Rooms in the Los Angeles area.


The Da Vinci Exhibit

Hollywood and Highland Center (across from the Kodak Theatre) 6801 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, CA 90024

For additional information and tickets, call: 888 998 4624

The exhibit runs until December 31st, 2011.


I just saw that for the next four days, the exhibit is on sale at perks daily. Here is the link to get $6 admission. The regular price is $18.


Chado Tea Room at H. Wood



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.



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:


Duke Ellington … And More Stories To Celebrate Great Figures In African American History

When I was twelve years old, I discovered jazz. I listened to Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington and so many other jazz greats who filled my young soul with music that inspired me to live, be, and see the world, but I didn’t know much about their personal histories except what was portrayed in the media and sometimes the media portrayal was quite sensational. It wasn’t until I saw this new DVD that I found out Duke Ellington, the greatest jazz composer, stopped playing piano when he was a child because he didn’t enjoy the music he was playing and the regiment of rigid practice. It was only by chance that he heard a different type of music in his early twenties that compelled him to return to music.

This DVD collection also features the story, Duke Ellington is Not A Street, written by American playwright, poet, Ntozake Shange, who is best known for her Obie winning play, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf. This version of the story  is narrated by Phylicia Rashad, best known as Claire Huxtable in the long running NBC television show, The Cosby Show, and coincidentally is the first African American woman to win a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play, for her role in the revival of A Raisin in the Sun. I purposely mention she is the first African American female to win a Tony in a Lead Role – not because I like to label people, but because it’s important.

Why? Why can’t we just be considered people with no labels of racial identity? In the book, Nutureshock, by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman, they point out the compelling evidence why it is important it is to talk to your children about race – because there is no hiding that the a person may be Black or Asian or Native American, etc. and if you don’t talk to your children about different races, they will pick up racial stereotypes. In an excerpt from the book, which was published in Newsweek Magazine, it highlights a study that shows children as young as 6 months old discriminate based on visual aspects of people. (Sorry if this seems like another thing to worry about as a parent.) What can a parent do? Talk to your children about race and celebrate different cultures. Create a world where stereotypes don’t exist. That is why I appreciate DVDs such as Duke Ellington… And More Stories to Celebrate Great Figures In African American History.

Celebrate African American history with this historic and musical collection of four stories on one DVD. Best-selling picture books are lovingly adapted for the small screen, featuring captivating narration by Forest Whitaker, Phylicia Rashad, Samuel L. Jackson and Billy Dee Williams.

  • Duke Ellington (based on the story by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Bran Pinkney, narrated by Forest Whitaker). A most fitting tribute to a great man who proudly celebrated the history of African-Americans, from slavery to civil rights struggles
  • Ellington Was Not a Street (based on the story by Ntozake Shange, illustrated by Kadir Nelson, narrated by Phylicia Rashad). A poetic tribute about growing up amidst many of the great figures in African American History
  • Ella Fitzgerald: The Tale of Vocal Virtuosa (based on the story Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Brian Pinkney, narrated by Billy Dee Williams). The dramatic story of how Ella got her sound, on the way to a most remarkable and inspiring career.
  • John Henry (based on the story by Julius Lester, illustrated by Brian Pinkney, narrated by Samuel L. Jackson). Based on the famous African-American folk ballad, this story tells of the legendary contest between a spirited man with a hammer and a steam drill.


Duke Ellington … And More Stories To Celebrate Great Figures In African American History

Street Date: February 1, 2011

DVD SRP: $14.95

Here is a link to the excerpt of Nutureshock: http://www.newsweek.com/2009/09/04/see-baby-discriminate.html

Tall Ships – Ventura

January 11, 2011

Practicing our sumo stance - similar to surfing

On Sunday, we had an adventure on the high seas where some of the fellow travellers dressed up – yes, a loving father dressed up as a pirate ala Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribean. We were lucky to board the Tall Ship, Lady Washington, to join the crew on a 3 hour historic re-enactment of what it would have been like to sail the seas in 1790. It was filled with merriment, laughter, dancing, music, relaxation, and learning. Mishy says she would love to work on a boat one day.

The Tall Ships will be in Ventura until January 17th, 2011 and then they move onwards to San Francisco. They offer a variety of programs for schools and homeschoolers on the weekdays and on the weekends, they have two adventures planned – Adventure Family Sails and Battleship Sails. The prices run from $35-$60/person and everyone needs a ticket.

passing by some sea otters

Helping put down the sails

The cannon - to be fired later - 3 times, bring earplus!

Mishy and Babba connecting out on the sea


Showing us the depth finder

Showing us the device that finds out the terrane of the water

Preparing to raise the sails

Raising the sails

The Boat



Bonus photos:

After we reached land, we decided to have some lunch. Sunday was a special Greek holiday and we were lucky enough to participate and view some traditional Greek dancing by children at The Greek At The Harbor. When I was growing up in Toronto, my best friend, Cali, is of Greek heritage. I was welcomed into her home by her parents and I spent a lot of my pre-teen and teenaged years surrounded by her warm family. This reminded me of their spirit.

This past year, I have heard amazing things about the Discovery Science Center so I am very excited to be able to offer two family pack giveaways for their VIP Party to Celebrate Elmo’s Birthday. This is in conjunction with their upcoming exhibit – Sesame Street Presents: The Body. Here are more details regarding this special encore exhibition:

Sesame Street Presents: The Body offers an engaging, free-flowing learning experience set in the fun, familiar and reassuring world of Sesame Street. The loveable Sesame Street Muppets anchor an exciting collection of hands-on, interactive and multimedia experiences that allow children to explore the human body and how to keep it healthy. Each exhibit area has multiple activities to provide age appropriate and exciting learning opportunities for children at a variety of developmental levels. The exhibition emphasizes scientific investigation and developmental and curriculum-based learning goals for children ranging from two to eight years old. These learning goals tie into the National Science Education Standards, the Benchmarks for Science Literacy and the Sesame Street Healthy Habits for Life Curriculum.

Each component of The Body exhibit is geared toward children’s natural excitement about learning,” added Anna Housley Juster, Director of Content, Sesame Workshop.

“We believe that children learn best through active participation and self-discovery. The exhibit features a wide range of opportunities for children to observe, investigate, experiment and talk about what they are learning with their parent or caregiver. Thinkwell has done a superb job of incorporating our content and characters with their design.”

The Body will be exhibited at the Discovery Science Center January 29, through May 1, 2011. In addition, children and adult caregivers can explore the exhibit prior to their visit online at: http://www.sesamestreetpresents.org.

And now the giveaway:

Sesame Street Presents: The Body Event & Giveaway

Sesame Street Presents: The Body is at Discovery Science Center January 29, 2011 through May 1, and to celebrate this new exhibit we’re celebrating the beloved Muppet, Elmo on his birthday, February 3 from 6PM-8PM! Join us for birthday cake, VIP access to the Sesame Street Presents: The Body exhibit and a special visit with Elmo. This is a private event, after-hours. Our friends at Sensitive Sweets are making Elmo’s birthday cake gluten-free, soy-free and allergy-free so all kids (and adults) can enjoy!

If you would like to be entered, please email me by midnight, January 12th at: naturaltravelingmomma@gmail.com – include your name and number of people in your party – maximum number is 4.

Mishy will draw the two names on Saturday morning.

To follow Discovery Science Center on Facebook and Twitter, here are the links.




Discovery Science Center


UPDATE: And the winners of the giveaway are: Sabine’s family and Allyson’s family. Congratulations! (I have emailed you both separately. There were over 50 families that entered.)