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/

First Dentist Appointment

April 17, 2011

Getting her teeth cleaned.

Last Monday, Mishy had her first dentist appointment. She looked forward to it because a friend, Clara, had recommended her dentist, Dr. William Pratt in Santa  Monica, who is known for being gentle and personally cleans his client’s teeth.

Swishing the water in her mouth to spit.

We brush her teeth twice a day and sometimes even more. It is a game to brush Mishy’s teeth. She likes to eat the toothpaste. We use Weleda children’s toothpaste and  Kids Spry Tooth Gel, because they both don’t contain any harmful chemicals and are safe, if eaten. At the appointment, my husband asked Dr. Pratt if she needed flouridated toothpaste. A dentist he had met at a drugstore said our daughter did. Dr. Pratt said children get plenty of flouride in the foods they eat and it is unnecessary to give them toothpaste with flouride in them.

Getting ready to have her teeth flossed.

Her teeth after her first professional cleaning and flossing.

Details:
Dr. William Pratt
http://www.healthgrades.com/directory_search/physician/profiles/dr-md-reports/dr-william-pratt-dds-a84b0ca6.cfm
Weleda Children’s Tooth Gel
http://www.vitacost.com/Weleda-Childrens-Tooth-Gel-1-78-oz
Spry Kids Tooth Gel
http://www.xlear.com/spry.aspx
(Full disclosure: I do not benefit in any way by offering the links.)

Rhythmic Circus

Sunday, April 17
2 PM • $35
$20 for kids 17 and under

Smothers Theatre

TICKETS

More Sensational Sundays

Rhythmic Circus

There’s tap dancing and then there’s Rhythmic Circus, the percussive-dance phenomenon that electrifies audiences with its hard-hitting tap and high-spirited music. This family show is spiced up with a variety of musical flavors, from Minneapolis funk to salsa, and enlivened by a seven-piece band, vocalists, and a beat-boxer. “Flat-out amazing!”—Minneapolis Star Tribune.

* Natural Traveling Momma is excited to be giving away 4 tickets to one lucky winner to see Rhythmic Circus at Pepperdine’s Smothers Theatre on April 17th, 2011 at 2PM. To enter, please a comment below. For an additional entry, click on to The Center For The Arts/Pepperdine University’s website. The giveaway ends on April 13th at 5PM. My daughter will pick out one winner. Good luck.

http://arts.pepperdine.edu/

I’m giving away 4 tickets to the April 16th show at 1PM of Swimmy, Frederic, and Inch By Inch. It is at the Smothers Theatre at Pepperdine University – which is a lovely theatre and there’s a small and interesting art gallery nearby – interesting because they showcase work by  amazing artists. That day also has a free family day from 10AM-3PM.

The show is performed by Mermaid Theatre from Nova Scotia, Canada. I started working in children’s theatre both as a playwright and actor and while I never worked at The Mermaid Theatre, it has an internationally known reputation of producing high quality work and this is one theatre’s work I have always wanted to see – as an adult with a child’s heart.
Many of my friends have gone to Nova Scotia to see their work. It was something to do as a Canadian theatre artist. We are so lucky they are touring more and coming to Malibu. Don’t pass this opportunity to see their work. Really. If you can’t make the 1PM show, plan to make it to the 11AM show. Tickets start at $10. There is not a bad seat in the house. Bring your lunch and have a picnic with ocean views. 

Parking can be a big confusing. Sometimes you may park in their parking lot. If you park on the street or in a neighboring parking lot in the Pepperdine University area, there are shuttle buses which come every 10 minutes. Give yourself plenty of time to park and walk or shuttle. It’s beautiful there so personally, I find it fun to walk or shuttle to the theatre. So does my daughter. It’s part of the ritual of going to the Smothers Theatre.

(We will miss this show, unfortunately. When I found that out, I wrote to them trying to figure out when they will next return to Southern California. Suddenly, I wished I was a theatre producer again who can host them 🙂

*Natural Traveling Momma is happy to giveaway 4 tickets to see the Swimmy, Frederick, and Inch by Inch on Saturday, April 16, 2011 for their 1 p.m. performance at Pepperdine’s Smothers Theatre in Malibu. To enter, please comment below. For an additional entry, click on Pepperdine’s Smothers Theatre’s website and then comment once again below. Good luck! The giveaway ends on April 12th at 5PM. My daughter will pick out one winner and the winner will be notified by April 13th, 2011.

Pepperdine’s Smothers Theatre

http://arts.pepperdine.edu/

Pepperdine University Kids’ Playhouse Series will feature a magical production of “Swimmy, Frederick, and Inch by Inch” on Saturday, April 16, at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. at Pepperdine’s Smothers Theatre in Malibu. Drawn from Leo Lionni’s exquisite Caldecott Honor Books, this trilogy brings to life the tiny fish that fends off danger using ingenuity, the poetic mouse that warms hearts, and the loveable inchworm that shares his facility for measuring absolutely everything. The stories unfold gently and are told with innovative puppetry and original music. Best appreciated by ages 3–8 and families. Presented by Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia. I have friends who have seen their work and have raves to say about them.

Don’t miss Family Art Day in the Gregg G. Juarez Palm Courtyard! Join us for special art projects and Weisman Museum tours from 10 AM to 3 PM on each Saturday of the Kids’ Playhouse Series. Family Art Day is free and open to the public.

UPDATE: Congratulations, Deirdre Nagle for winning the four tickets!

Bob Baker Marionette Theatre has been on my list of things to do with my daughter since she was a few months old. This past Thursday, we were invited to see their show, Magic Strings, at their theatre in downtown Los Angeles. The show is a series of vignettes devoted to showcasing the puppet’s magic strings – how a puppet sings, woos, dances, plays piano, nuzzles, tickles, inspires laughter, amazement, and delight.

Bob Baker has been a professional puppeteer for most of this 87 years. While he wasn’t performing in this show, his five apprentices carried on his tradition of entertaining children of all ages. When we sat down in his charming theatre in the round, I smiled watching all the expectant audience members. They ranged in age from a newborn to several groups of elementary students to a group of senior citizens. They were all excited to see, for their first time, a marionettes show.

This show features over 100 puppets, including some that have been in his collection for over 50 years.  He has 3000 puppets in total and one day hopes to create a full-time Academy of Puppetry and Allied Arts adjacent to the theatre so many will learn the craft of puppetry. Right now, his not-for-profit Academy of Puppetry, subsidize tickets for students from local area schools to attend performances and helps develop languages resources so the experience of seeing live theatre may be brought back to the classroom. Bob Baker Marionette Theatre has been declared a historic cultural monument by the City of Los Angeles on June 3rd, 2009.

Dancing ostriches.

The puppets interact with the audience throughout the show. As soon as a puppet approached an audience member, Mishy wanted the puppets to come to her. “How come she’s not coming to me?” she asked. When the puppeteer with one of the ostriches puppets was nearby, I motioned for him to come to Mishy and he did. The ostrich nuzzled and nibbled on Mishy’ hair. She loved it.

The only section of the show that was a bit slow and too dark for Mishy was the fan dance. She wanted to know where their eyes were.

Cafe/Birthday Party room.

After the show, the audience was treated to ice cream in their cafe/birthday party room where you may also purchase hand-made collectible marionette puppets, as well as Mexican made puppets, Bob Baker coloring books, posters, and other fun stuff. When Mishy expressed she would love to see some of the puppets, I asked one of the puppeteers who asked us which one would we like to see. Mishy said the dog, who was the Master of Ceremony.

Mishy meeting one of the horses.

First, we met one of the horses because another puppeteer brought it out for other children to see. The puppeteer, Alex, showed how the horse’s mouth moves.

Mishy with Alouwishes

Meeting Ostrich

Details:

http://www.bobbakermarionettes.com/

If you use the code “Mom Blog 04”, you will get tickets at the special rate of $12.00 per ticket*.

This code is good for available weekday performances only (Tuesday through Friday) during the month of April 2011, and can only be used by calling the Bob Baker Marionette Theatre box office ahead of time to make a required reservation at 213-250-9995.

The theatre itself is situated in an unusual spot and reminds me of going to independent art galleries in New York in the late 1990’s – slightly remotely located and with buildings with barbed wire on top of their walls. Nevertheless, it is safe and they have a private parking lot where it’s $3 to park. We parked on the street for free.

Cool tip: After seeing the show, you may want to go for a hike at nearby Vista Hermosa Park. It is just kitty corned to Bob Baker Marionette Theatre.

(I was given complimentary tickets to see the show with no obligation to review.)

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.