Mishy showing Babba the long horned cattle.

A couple of weeks ago, on a very hot Sunday in Los Angeles, the Autry Museum, which is located near Griffith Park hosted a fabulous Earth Day Celebration, which was sadly not well attended. We received free tickets via Goldstar and that’s how I heard about the event. There is an upcoming Day of the Cowboy and Cowgirl on July 23rd, 2011 and if that day is anything like our day during the Earth Day Festival, you will probably stay all day long and still find more fun things to do and discover at the Autry – including some delicious food. I had some very tasty vegan chocolate chili. My daughter loved it too.

Here is a photo essay of our time there and it doesn’t cover everything the Autry Museum offered that day. They really know how to create a wonderful day for families. The Autry Museum is known for showing a complete picture of Californian Cowboy and Native America cultures, as well as Chinese American’s contribution during the time of the gold rush and railroad construction.

Pretending they are in jail.

Babba riding the pretend horse.

Mining for gold. They let you take some fool's gold home.

Playing in the Family Discovery Gallery - inspired by Lisa See's family history.

Pretending to eat the food Mishy made for Babba in the Family Discovery Gallery

Reading in the Family Discovery Gallery

Watching Peruvian music as part of The Earth Day Festival

Mishy and me painting a mural.

Dancing to a Native American drum circle

Petting a goat from the Moorpark Animal Teaching College.

Feeding a goat.

Dancing to Brazilian music.

Resting and hugging.

Releasing ladybugs.

The mural Mishy and I contributed to by helping paint it during the Earth Day Celebration.

Details:

The Autry Museum

http://theautry.org/

The Autry Museum Day of The Cowboy and Cowgirl

http://theautry.org/programs/family-activities/national-day-of-the-cowboy-and-cowgirl

Goldstar – where we received our free tickets. Goldstar offers discount tickets to several cultural events in America, including complimentary tickets. You just pay the service charges.

https://www.goldstar.com/join?p=F1627103RP

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Photo Finalist!

May 16, 2011

When I was in grade seven, I had a teacher who was a professional photographer. She had a dark room where I spent many hours developing photographs because I loved taking pictures and watching them appear before my eyes. I loved manipulating them during the developing process – how you can create shadows and textures with movements from your hands. I had dreams of becoming a professional photographer, of having a visually artistic career, of sharing the world my images I had created by snapping away and then processing them in the dark room. (Now, with digital photography, you can manipulate images on your computer. I don’t have time to edit – yes, the photos you see on this blog are completely untouched – warts and all.)

When I was in highschool, I heard about a photograph competition for highschool students and I desperately wanted to enter. I developed the photograph I had taken when I was twelve years old and still loved – a photograph of water droplets from the Eaton Center in downtown Toronto. I liked how I angled the photograph, how the light hit the droplets, how the shadows created a mysterious mood. I thought I had a decent chance of at least becoming a finalist, maybe even winning a prize. I didn’t enter though because as the days came closer to the last days of entering the competition, I lost faith in my photograph and me as a photographer. I let the image sit on top of my bookcase in my room and left it there until I stopped living at home. My dreams of a photographic career finished because I just didn’t believe in myself.

Three years ago, I heard about a photograph contest for amateur photographers sponsored by the Music Center and Los Angeles Times. This year, I entered the competition. It was a marathon day of horseback riding in Topanga, attending preconcert festivities and a classical music concert in Glendale, playing with a statue of Benjamin Franklin, heading to Torrance to see the Golden Chinese Acrobats, and then the next morning, heading to the Santa Monica Pier and riding the carousels – all in 24 hours. I photographed our journey and distilled it down to 10 photographs.

Now, I am a finalist! And it’s time for people to vote. Please vote for me. I would love to win. The prizes are a camera bag and a gift certificate to Samy’s Camera shop. The winning photographs share a spread in Brand X Magazine, which is published by Los Angeles Times.

To vote, text: 2410059 to 22333  You may text up to 10 times! Please do. I really would love to win. Voting closes on May 21, 2011 at 9:30AM.

If you would like to see my photos, here is the link:

http://musiccenter.org/events/241gallery.html

They are alphabetically listed so I am on page 5 – bottom left hand corner under: A Day Starts With Horse And Ends With Horses by M.J. Kang.

And please spread the word so people vote for me. Please.  On Facebook, Twitter – please.

To vote, text: 2410059 to 22333

There is a public viewing of all of the finalist this weekend at the Music Center. Here’s the link for more details:

http://musiccenter.org/events/aa_pulse.html

I am stepping out of my comfort zone and putting myself out there because well, why not? Now that I’m a mother – if I want my daughter to take risks and believe in herself, I need to start believing in myself.

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

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.

Mishy jumping from bed to bed in our Toronto hotel.

I am sitting in a hotel room in Montreal while my husband and daughter are fast asleep. It is 1:13AM and I am thinking – what I am doing with my life? We’ve been in Canada, where my current citizenship is, for almost five days now. It feels like I have been on this trip for longer. We first stopped off in Toronto to see my family – my mother, father, oldest sister and her long time boyfriend. My father is going through a transition, having recently sold his business. He is in between jobs. Though he is past the age of retirement, he will never retire and has another job lined up. My sister, who is an actuary, told me most retirees get depressed after six months of retirement. My father will never get depressed. At least not from retiring. He has a need to keep the American Dream alive.

Sometimes I wonder how my life would have been if we stayed in Korea. Of course, nothing is a better life without my daughter – yet, I do think about choices we make and choices we had no control over or say. My first memory is of me waking up in the middle of the night. It is our first night in Toronto and I cannot sleep. I remember my uncle’s brown sofa and how ugly I think it is. Where’s the color? I wake my oldest sister up because I want to go back home. She tells me we are home and it doesn’t make sense. I stare at the brown sofa for what feels like a long time while I hear my sister progressively breathing deeper. I just want to go back home. That was my first heartbreak. I don’t know if we ever get over our first heartbreak? Maybe through tears? Over and over again?

Mishy with my oldest sister, the actuary.

My sister and my daughter adore each other. My daughter couldn’t stop holding her hand or wanting my sister to carry her or kiss my sister or tell her to give her airplane rides or jump on the bed with my sister. We had two double beds in our hotel room in Toronto and my daughter instantly made up the game of jumping from one to another. They were spaced over two feet apart. My husband likes to call my daughter a dare-devil. To me, she’s a toddler. My daughter showed my sister how to jump from bed to bed – by balancing on one end and then jumping and rolling. My sister remarked how much weight my daughter must have on her head because of the way she rolled on the bed, while I was watching closely to make sure she was safe – the differences in observations an aunt makes as opposed to a mother. My sister doesn’t have any children of her own right now. She has already done her share in raising them – me and my middle sister. We live 3000 miles away. It’s hard for family to be so far apart. I know. I always wished for family – a large extended family who would relieve my mother’s burden of caring for three young children only 2.5 years apart.

In Montreal, I am not a part of my husband’s family. Despite being with him for 14 years, they do not know me and I do not know them. Maybe like family, we don’t really like each other. They put up with me because I married their son, grandson, nephew, cousin, etc. and now I am the mother of their great-granddaughter, granddaughter and I put up with them because they brought my husband into this world, or helped raise him, or grew up with him. While everyone talked, I was alone. There were 34 people at dinner and aside from playing with my daughter, I spent most of my time talking to a stranger I had just met, a family friend who was interested in finding a place to stay while she visited Santa Monica in the summer.

I wish I could give the gift of a larger family to my daughter for longer periods of time. I wish I could start trusting my mother-in-law again. Prior to me becoming pregnant, we were very close and then I became pregnant and things changed. After I gave birth, a lot of things were said and done and it made me believe the person I had known before was false and only befriended me because she was scared she was going to lose her son. A psychiatrist told me my mother-in-law has deep issues which will never be resolved because she does not want to investigate. A mediator told me she is in a place of pain and while forgiveness is not the answer, acceptance is. Do I accept my mother-in-law for all her faults and her inability to take any sort of responsibility? Clearly, I am not in an emotional place to accept right now. Maybe it’s because I have the thought in my head that she secretly wants to destroy my marriage so she can have her son back. She has a history of having family members take sides and during the first two years of my daughter’s life – she made it very clear she was on a focused desire to turn his family against me one by one. That is my opinion. To many times I remember coming home to my husband in a yelling match with yet another relative in the early months of our daughter’s life.

So here I am with a daughter I adore and a husband who loves me and an older sister who is loving to my daughter and whom my daughter adores. Perhaps that is what I will focus on and everything else will fall into place – including what am I doing with my life? Or maybe the question is – what will I do with my life? Now that my daughter is getting older and needs me less – needs me in the sense of the first three years when she needed me every second. Now, she plays by herself and motherhood has become, well, less exhausting. Maybe it’s time for me to return to my writing. My creative writing of plays and screenplays and make a mark for myself outside of motherhood. There – I am declaring it to the world – I am going to return to writing – not just writing on the blog – but writing to explore, to let go and live – in a different way that is so fun and freeing and sometimes so hard to start. Just begin. Just begin. Just begin.

Cowboy Festival Giveaway

April 18, 2011

The Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival is once again coming to Melody Ranch™ Motion Picture Studio and other venues throughout Santa Clarita. Saddle up and step back to a simpler time of chaps, saddles and old-time saloons. This year’s festival will include a mix of new attractions and returning favorites, including dutch oven peach cobbler, trick ropers, authentic gear and a show stopping musical talent lineup.

Festival guests can expect to see some of the Cowboy Festival’s most beloved returningperformers. Grammy nominated singer-guitarist Don Edwards will hit the stage, as well as Hot Club of Cowtown and Wylie and the Wild West. The Sons of the San Joaquin will also head back to the Cowboy Festival in 2011, entertaining guests with their fantastic Western harmonies.

In addition to the list of musical performances, guests can expect the full Cowboy Festival experience. Fun activities are set to take place for guests of all ages, including living history exhibits and leatherworking for children. Multicultural entertainment will also make its return to the Cowboy Festival. Enjoy North American Indian performances by the Eagle Sprit Dancers, accurate portrayals of Civil War era music by The Band of the California Battalion, and authentic Hispanic cultural performances.

As always, the Cowboy Festival will feature the best in Western gear, food, clothing, and living history exhibits.

*Natural Traveling Momma is excited to be giving away 4 all day passes to attend The Cowboy Festival on your date of choice – either Saturday, April 30th or Sunday, May 1st, 2011. These four tickets have a total retail value of $120. To enter, please comment below. For an additional entry, click on the link about The Cowboy Festival and make an additional comment on this blog page. The giveaway ends on April 25th, 2011 at 5PM. Good luck!

UPDATE: Congratulations, Lori! You’ve won the four tickets to attend the Cowboy Festival!

Cowboy Festival

http://www.cowboyfestival.org/