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/

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.

Details:

http://www.discoverycube.org/

My daughter likes to jump. She loves to tell people she’s a jumper and she jumps on our sofa, off our bed and on to a mattress we placed below our bed. We now have a queen sized mattress in our livingroom which she loves to jump on from our sofa. (We’ve had several house guests and will do so for the next couple of weeks.) ¬†She jumps throughout the day with every opportunity she finds. Jumping is incredibly important for toddlers to help create strength and balance so when I heard about Sky High Sports – with it’s wall to wall rooms of trampolines and walls that are trampolines, I thought this is a place to take Mishy and also get my exercise at the same time. (I like to exercise.)

Sky High Sports has five rooms of various sizes where you can jump to your heart’s content. There’s a room devoted to dodge ball, one for children 8 years and under and one you may rent for your private functions. A mother I met at Sky High Sports told me she first heard about Sky High Sports when she came for a friend’s birthday party and now visits once a week because she loves it there. Her kids do too. She also said the birthday party was fabulous.

There is a lot to love at Sky High Sports. It’s a place for the whole family of all ages. It has video games off to the side, an air hockey table and did I mention the five rooms for jumping? One where you can book for your own private party? There are also two rooms upstairs if you want to your function to be at a lower volume – away from the music. The music isn’t too loud once you start jumping. When we were there, Jump by Eddie Van Halen was playing.

Mishy and I jumped for one hour. She was smiling the whole time. She loved that she could jump with her bare feet. (Gyms shoes are allowed during jumping.) If there was a location closer to home, we would be at Sky High Sports everyday because I like to exercise and be with my daughter at the same time. Plus, it was wonderful to see her laughing the whole time we were there.

I am so thankful that Sky High Sports has agreed to giveaway four one hour free jumping tickets to one lucky winner. Please comment if you would like to win. If you visit there website: www.jumpskyhigh.com – and comment once again, you will have an additional entry. Sky High Sports has several locations throughout Southern California as well as several in the state of Washington and one in Portland, Oregon. If anyone is interested in starting a franchise in westside of Los Angeles – please do and you can count on us as regular customers! The reason why I like this place so much is because it’s free open play time of jumping – you can do flips, jump across the room, jump from trampoline to trampoline, jump on to the walls, the possibilities of jumping are endless.

*The giveaway ends midnight, February 28th, 2011. The passes do not have an expiration date and are valid at all locations.

(Full disclosure: our time at Sky High Sports was complimentary.)

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