Last week, I organized a field trip to Fillmore Railway and Fish Hatchery. It’s a 15 minute ride on a vintage train to a fish hatchery where children use dimes to pay for fish food to feed trout and see some herons on the other side of the fence. Then, it’s a 15 minute ride back to the railroad station. Here are some pictures of our adventures on that day.

All aboard the train!

I was nervous we were going to miss the train. While we left early and initially thought we were going to be early, we got caught in terrible traffic. On the 405 freeway, there were two car accidents. We moved 2.5 miles in 45 minutes. Once we cleared the accidents, I drove incredibly fast with Mishy telling me to go faster and faster – she didn’t want to miss the train either! While I am not going to tell you how fast I went because eek – what if someone in law enforcement is reading this – it was so fast  that I was able to get to the Fillmore Railway with 10 minutes to spare.

A view from the train.

We had never been to Fillmore or driven along the 126 West Highway. It is a beautiful drive, passing orange farms, Lake Piru and nurseries. Fillmore itself is a quaint town that seems to have retained all of its charm. It’s filled with antique shops, tasty Mexican Food restaurants, and a City Hall with nice bathrooms and of course, the vintage trains. Mishy said she wanted to move to Fillmore and I entertained the thought. (We’ve been having a great deal of problems with our landlord where the police were called last month because the manager committed battery against me. We’ve been dealing with ongoing harassment, child harassment and endangerment for two years now. My husband even got bitten by a dog while protecting our daughter’s friend who was over and playing the backyard. I will write a post about all this in the future once our case with the City Attorney is resolved. Needless to say, my family has been thinking about moving.) Fillmore seemed like an ideal place to live.

Mishy, with purpose, walking to the fish hatchery.

Once the train stopped, we got off and walked a short couple of blocks to the fish hatchery. I forgot our dimes. Sarah and family, who joined us on the field trip offered to give us her dimes and together with what seemed like our endless supply of dimes, we fed the fish.

The trout jumping for food.

Mishy loved throwing large handful of fish food for the trout. She eventually threw her cup into the water. She said she wanted the fish to eat all of the crumbs. Luckily, the cup was non toxic.

Workers cleaning the hatchery.

The herons and ducks waiting for the fish.

On the other side of the fish hatchery were herons and ducks, enjoying their luck at being so close to a fish hatchery and waiting for some escaped fish. It was incredibly peaceful watching them. They were as equal a draw for the children’s attention.

Now for some details of the train:

Horses on top of the windows of the train.

One of the cars.

Mishy hanging out on a chair in the train.

 

A ceiling fan in one of the cars of the train.

Mishy jumping on another train seat.

The train also featured a car that was completely outdoors. I was too busy enjoying the train ride to take pictures of that car.

While it was a bit of a long car ride for us – normally, it would take just over one hour, but took us an hour and a half, it really was worth the traffic to experience the train ride, fish hatchery, spend time with friends, and get to visit Fillmore.

Details:

Fillmore and Western Railway

http://www.fwry.com/

 

 

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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/

Sandy Point Dume

May 11, 2011

I am a bit behind in my posts. I started a new yahoo group and quickly organized a lot of field trips. Now that the group is getting solidified and I’ve already organized 18 or more field trips – I’ve lost count, I can get back to blogging!

Mishy and I joined a group of younger homeschoolers on a sandy hike in Malibu at Pt. Dume. My husband and I lived in Malibu at a friend’s guest house for six years and we never went on this hike. We’ve heard of Pt. Dume – of course – it’s a surfer’s paradise and we’re not surfers. My husband says he’ll learn with Mishy. (Mishy and I plan to learn how to drive a plane, if she would still like to when the times comes.)

Point Dume is a beautiful short hike with the ocean breeze following you and smell of the sea wafting in the air as you climb higher and higher along the ridge of the mountains. We heard sea lions, which Mishy said they were calling her name. When we went whale watching, my husband told her the sea lions were calling for her and she laughed then. The sea lions lie on the buoys on the Pacific Ocean. You could probably see dolphins and whales with the help of binoculars during their migration.

Mishy walking on the sand hill.

The hike starts off the side of the beach. In the parking lot, where you pay anywhere from $4-$8, depending on the time of day and season, there were two sand hills sitting side by side of each other. Mishy loved climbing up and down, along it, backwards and forwards while the group of homeschoolers went up the trail. We actually didn’t spend much time with them, since the timing was off. When we were headed up, they were headed down. We ended up doing our own thing, which is fun. It was interesting for me to note that I still felt the pull of the group, even though I didn’t know this group very well. It’s important to feel a part of a tribe.

Firefighters practicing foe a search and rescue.

As we climbed higher, we were privy to a group of local firefighters practicing for a search a rescue rally. While it was serious in nature, it did look like fun when they were repelling down the rock wall. Once upon a time, I did a little bit of rock climbing. That would be another fun thing to do with my daughter. Our daughter. My husband reminds me she’s our daughter.

Mishy balancing on a rock while hiking.

Hiking with a preschool aged child is much different from hiking with my husband. My husband and I used to hike a lot when we lived in Malibu – our backyard had a beautiful hike along the Santa Monica Mountains. The way my husband and I hiked was mainly for the exercise. Hiking with our daughter, we stop a lot and play with the dirt, investigate the plants, and find animals – lizards, mostly. It’s a calmer and more focused hike. In The Moment Hiking, if I were to give it a title.

Our views

Details:

Point Dume Preserve

http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=623

The Madrona Marsh Nature Center in Torance, CA is a nature preserve devoted to letting people experience nature in the last remaining vernal marsh in Los Angeles County. From it’s website, “A vernal marsh is a depression flooded by runoff water from surrounding upland slopes. Vernal means spring, thus by connotation the marsh is fed by winter and spring storms. After the rainy season passes, evaporation, percolation and transpiration reduce the water depth by about one fourth inch per day. By the end of August, the wetland is dry and remains dry until the next rainy season.”

The Madrona Marsh Nature Center offers family hikes, homeschooling tours, school tours, bird watching gatherings, senior strolls, habitat restoration opportunities as well as others in programs for the public. The programs at the marsh are by donation. Here is the link to their calendar:

http://www.friendsofmadronamarsh.com/calendar.htm

On Friday mornings, Cindy Reid hosts a program for 3-6 year olds called Friday Fun. We’ve had the pleasure in participating in two Friday Funs. Friday Fun consists of an overall theme regarding nature. After the children find their name tags, they sit on a carpeted area while Cindy reads them a book related to the theme of the day. When we went, the themes were the marsh and springtime flowers.  A fun learning activity such as demonstrating the food chain follows and then a puppet show, an art exploration and finally, a hike in the marsh. The teachers are incredibly dedicated to letting the children learn and experience in their own way and it reminds me of the science camps I loved attending when I was younger. Here is a photo essay of our days there.

Cindy Reid reading a story.

Carol demonstrating the food chain in nature.

Cindy Reid performing a puppet show about the food chain while Carol and the children watch.

Mishy creating nature inspired art.

Looking at the marsh on our hike.

The group of children, parents and teachers on the trail.

The clouds on the day of our hike.

By the marsh to look for insects.

Looking for insects in the water.

Mishy standing by the marsh.

Looking at gopher or mole holes.

Looking for the FBIs - fungus, bacteria, and insects.

Mishy points to a mole hole.

Details:

Madrona Marsh Nature Center

http://www.friendsofmadronamarsh.com

Bonus photos:

Mishy watching the turtle after it's eaten

Mishy touching the snake skin on display inside the nature center.

Cindy Reid showing Mishy the seeds in the spring flowers.

Lori, M, and Mishy looking at the young blossoms.

These photos were taken with my new camera – the Panasonic Lumix. I love this camera! I bought it when I thought my former camera was lost. While it turned out I didn’t need to buy another camera because my husband found the other camera, I am happy to have purchased this one. It has a Lecia lens. Most importantly, I bought it used on Amazon.com. Here’s the link for more details on amazon with reviews:

<iframe src=”http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?lt1=_blank&bc1=000000&IS2=1&bg1=FFFFFF&fc1=000000&lc1=0000FF&t=natutravmomm-20&o=1&p=8&l=as4&m=amazon&f=ifr&ref=ss_til&asins=B00395WIXA” style=”width:120px;height:240px;” scrolling=”no” marginwidth=”0″

Who's the birthday girl? Matt asks Mishy to be his helper.

Our daughter turned three and she wanted a party. Fifty of our friends and my mom came to celebrate with us. Matt, from The Reptile Family brought many amphibians, reptiles, and arachnids to entertain and educate all our guests. He was a sensation.

Matt shows J a scorpion.

L looks to see what's in the basket.

Cockroaches!

Mishy has 5 frogs on her. We had to keep them wet so her dress got wet. She didn't mind.

Mishy touches a frog.

Y holds two lizards.

Matt shows L a geeko.

Gentle touching.

Fascinated by another lizard

Mishy picked 3 friends to hold an iguana together

Feeding snakes banana

A turtle

Watching the turtle move

This was Babba's favorite part of The Reptile Family

Matt had to remove the snake from our necks to let it pee and poo. The snake's pee is solid white and gooey yellow. They poo every 1-2 weeks.

Babba carried the snake around his neck for as long as he could. Long time friends, Joan and Beth look on.

S and Beth get a closer view of a snake while Mishy and others watch a snake on the grass.

Blowing out the candles.

Success!

Mishy just after she blew out the candles.

The children and adults painted t-shirts and puppets to take with them.

Mishy's new friend, John Cariani - Babba's long time friend. He's a Tony nominated actor and playwright of the most produced play in America. His play, Almost Maine, is more produced than Shakespeare's Mid Summer Nights Dream.

After the party, Mishy and friends played with chalk while others played upstairs and in the backyard.

Details:

Matt from The Reptile Family

http://www.reptilefamily.com/

Hire them! They make things very easy, are reliable, dedicated, and make a very unique experience which children and adults will remember. One child brought home an imaginary turtle and it still lives in their place. They also offer special classes for all ages.

Catering was by Maggie’s Tapas. Delicious food and healthy too. We ordered two party platters from them. They deliver too.

http://maggiestatas.com/

Cupcakes were from Vanilla Bake Shop and Yummy Cupcakes. Both are in Santa Monica and other locations in Los Angeles. Vanilla Bake Shop has baby cupcakes which went very fast. So fast, I had to ask a guest to take a cupcake from his hand so Mishy could have one. Yummy Cupcakes has vegan cupcakes.

Vanilla Bake Shop

http://vanillabakeshop.com/

Yummy Cupcakes

http://www.yummycupcakes.com/

The cake was from Angel Maid Bakery in Culver City. We ordered the strawberry shortcake. On Mishy’s first birthday party, we ordered the guava passionfruit cake, which I thought was very yummy. Angel Maid is a family owned business which makes a special effort for customers and they make beautiful custom orders which are reasonable.

Angel Maid Bakery – Here’s their Yelp review, with all of their details

http://www.yelp.com/biz/angel-maid-bakery-los-angeles

Fabric paints we got from Jo-Ann’s Fabrics.

http://www.joann.com/joann/home/home.jsp

Mishy holding on to a chicken.

Today, through Elsa Inc., a not for profit organization to help rescued animals, I organized a homeschool visit to a rescue animal ranch in Malibu at Big Heart Ranch. There were 80 plus people who joined us today to touch, pet, hug, and learn about animals. Here is my photo journal of our day. What the photos don’t include is the art station and the seed planting station. Mishy and I were very busy relating to the horses.

Some of the group relating to the alpacas, deer, goats, miniature horses, and horses.

All the children and adults were able to go inside the stables to have intimate contact with the animals in their own space and time. The animals at the ranch include: Captain, the grandson of Secretariat, who was bred to be a champion race horse, but had other dreams of his own, two alpacas, two goats, a deer, two miniature horses, many chickens, whose eggs a lucky few were able to take home with them, and many other horses, including Snowy, Big Red, and Brava. After the ranch visit, Mishy sat on my lap in the car and thanked me.

Chickens laying eggs. They had a need for privacy.

Some guests playing on the tractor

E and R feeding Macchiato, an alpaca

Petting Captain, Secretariat's grandson

Brushing Big Red

Mishy picking out a horse brush

Children playing in the sandbox over looking the Pacific Ocean

Picnic tables over looking the Pacific Ocean

Mishy brushing Breezy, a miniature horse

Mishy brushing Breezy's tail

Children feeding Breezy

Children, including Mishy, leading Breezy back inside the stable

Mishy saying one final good bye to Breezy, and thanking Susan

Children saying their final farewells

Details:

Susan, who heads Elsa Inc organizes a few annual events at two ranches in Malibu, as well as classes focused on healthy ways of communicating with animals and getting back to nature for children aged 5-13 years old called, Unplugged Youth Adventure. She is open to organizing events for schools and homeschoolers alike.

http://www.elsainc.org/elsainc/Welcome.html

Bonus photo:

Mishy fast asleep during the car ride home.

Mishy made her Babba wear both her hat and his.

My husband was away in Singapore for five days. While that doesn’t seem like a lot of time, it was difficult for both Mishy and me. We don’t have any babysitter or family around, and my daughter is not enrolled in preschool so during that time, it was just me. While I don’t traditionally get a lot of time to myself when my husband is around, those few minutes here and there and the occasional evening when my husband takes our daughter to the playground, are times I need for myself – to re-group, get refreshed, and do things for me. (While those things for me tend to be blogging or organizing field trips, it still is my time.) My husband has gone on short business trips before. Maybe it was the distance and the fact that on two days, we didn’t have any correspondence with him because he was on a plane and maybe it was also because I was busy putting the final details of our daughter’s birthday party – and maybe because we usually go on long trips together – this time, it was really hard on all of us to be away from each other. When my husband landed, from a private plane no less, my daughter was very excited to see him and we made our way to the Arboretum of Los Angeles County – a place we had visited before as a family.

There are many things I love about the Arboretum – the freely roaming peacocks, the tram that takes you around the area, the easy parking, the gift shop where you may buy some beautiful flowers and cacti, the waterfall, the beautiful plants, and plenty of grassy areas to run on. (They also offer children’s programs such as story times and host special events such as weddings.)

Mishy and Babba running around in the wedding area.

Mishy and Babby looking at the pond while the geese lay on the grass.

Details:

Arboretum of Los Angeles County

http://www.arboretum.org/

Bonus information:

The arboretum is very close to our favorite dumpling place in Los Angeles – Din Tai Fung. We headed there afterwards where Mishy let the hostess know on the way out, “I really like your food. You know how to make noodles and dumplings.” We usually order the fish dumplings, shrimp rice cakes, steamed vegetables, sesame noodles, and red bean dumplings. The sesame noodles have a kick to it.

http://www.dintaifungusa.com/

Here’s Din Tai Fung’s review on Yelp:

http://www.yelp.com/biz/din-tai-fung-dumpling-house-arcadia