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Sunday, August 29, 2010

My Little Gymnast

BB is loving her Friday morning gym class. She absolutely adores it. As I've mentioned, at the beginning of August she moved up to the next level, which means she is no longer in a Mommy and Me style class. I get such a kick out of sitting in the bleachers and watching her run around, delighted with everything.


Last week's class went especially well, since both her favorite teachers were back. She'd had a little trouble with some substitute teachers in the previous sessions -- she gets nervous around folks she doesn't know, especially when it comes as a surprise and she was expecting familiar faces. But on Friday, she really shone with Miss D and Miss T. I had the camera in my purse, so I snuck away from the bleachers for a bit to play Mama Papparazzi. Here she is, dashing for all she's worth during the warm-up:

When they move from station to station, the teachers often model walking in a line with hands on hips. The kids get a big kick out of this.

Honestly, so do I. It kills me how BB puts her palms on her thighs and parades around. Every time.

BB has made enormous progress on the balance beam. Not only does she no longer need to hold somebody's hand -- but she has taken to walking with her hands over her head!


She actually paused, midway through, and reached out towards the teacher (Miss T in black on the left). Miss T then moved forward as though to spot BB and take her hand. "No!" BB said. "I want to give you a high five!" Which she did, without falling or even losing her balance, and then she put her hands back over her head and proceeded to walk the rest of the way down the inclined balance beam, unassisted!


More balancing...
The rings are definitely a favorite. She loves to tuck up her knees and swing out as far as she can before dropping down to the pad below.

Going upside-down is also very cool. (And I love the foreshortening in this pic, with her ginormous adorable piggie toes. What is it about kids' feet that is so painfully cute?)

Up the climbing wall, down the slide...

And then freeze!

(Classic freeze pose!)

At the end of class, the kids line up to get stamps on their hands or feet. (BB usually opts for feet.) For the past few sessions, the teachers have been telling them, "You are a superstar!" as they line up. This time, they had the kids repeat it back to them as they came up for their stamps. Here's BB, hands over her head, exclaiming, "I'm a Superstar!"

And indeed she is!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Another Week

BJ finishes up his second week in kindergarten today -- and wasn't I supposed to have more time available with one kid in school five days a week? It sure hasn't felt that way yet. As you may have noticed, I didn't find any time to blog this week -- in fact, I'm still not quite sure what I did manage to accomplish in the last five days!

Aside from some really good times with the kids, that is. The days have been a blur. Part of the seeming lack of time has to do with the fact that BJ is now no longer doing any sort of rest or nap time. So the hour and a half that I used to be able to count on every afternoon to get some sort of something accomplished is no longer there. Since he's only been gone in the mornings for these two weeks, the schedule has been pretty crazy. I'm hoping things will open up once he stays through until 2:30. That starts next week.

The good news is that kinder continues to go very, very well. We've had one of his "new best friends" over for a playdate (J, whom BB originally befriended at the back-t0-school BBQ). We -- both S and I -- have completed parent training for the school. We start work in the classrooms next week!

So we've been busy, but it's all good stuff. Aside from the fact that I've come down with a yucky cold, things are going well. I'm doing my best to keep my germs to myself and just ride with the ride. So far, so good.

Friday Feature -- Patch

Congratulations to Patch, the Etsyblogger of the Month for August! This busy, talented artisan has not one, not two, but THREE shops on Etsy! I'm delighted to interview her for this week's Friday Feature at Mama's Magic.



Vintage Shop -

Supply Shop -

Enjoy the interview!

1. Please tell us about the items in your Etsy shop. What do you make? How did you learn your craft? What is involved in your creative process?

For jewelry, I make them from Genuine Swarovski beads - Crystals and Pearls with simple beading techniques and I learn all techniques from the internet and beading magazines. I have a passion on Weddings stuff so I always get the inspirations to make a piece from wedding gown fashions and some from the real diamond jewelry.

I do sewing and put some in my supply shop. At first I made them for my jewelry packaging and someone asked me to make for her. That's the way sewing business came to my mind.

2. Tell us two (or more) other interesting things about you.

Umm.. as I put it in my blog..

Patch is .. a Third child, graduated in Mechanical Engineer, a wedding addict, a crafty maniac, a vintage lover, a movies lover, and more..


3. What is your favorite item in your shop (currently for sale or previously sold)? Why is it your favorite?


I love the Amelia Collection!! especially this Necklace.. I designed it when I saw the sleeveless wedding dress without beading or lace and I thought of something to put together with that dress. And it was the first time that I made something from laces. :D

4. What advice do you have for other folks selling or buying on Etsy?

For sellers, I think the most important thing to sell your products is the photography. As an online business, buyers can't see your real products. The photos are the only way for them to see your items. The better the photos, the greater the chance to get an order.
For buyer, believe in your instinct when you want to buy from the new seller and read the feedbacks before making the purchase. If you're not sure about anything, contact them for details. Most Etsy sellers are friendly.. like me.. LOL

5. What crafting skill(s) do you wish you had or hope to learn someday?

Sewing human clothing.. I do know how to sew both hand sewing and machine sewing but I don't know how to sew a dress or blouse.. Love to design my clothes and it will be great if I can make one by myself.

6. Which one song describes your life the best? Why?

"The Climb" by Miley Cyrus.. It's made me stronger and push me forwards.. :D

7. If money were no object for just one day, what would you do?

Traveling to the places that I haven't been before.. and take a lot of photos to share to everyone else.. and watch every movies I can..

8. Where else can we find out more about you and/or your creations?

I have 2 blogs.. One is all about my life and everything. I called it "Patch's Diary"

Another one I've just changed it from Wedding guide blog to Jewelry inspiration blog and everything about my jewelry shop.

And I opened a new blog for Wedding Guides.

9. Is there anything else youd like to tell us about your shop or your work?

I do love custom-made orders. I like to communicate with customers and work together to match their needs. So feel free to contact me for serving you what you want. :D


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Rich!

For some time now, BJ has been asking when he can start earning allowance. S and I decided that our family would start allowance when a child entered kindergarten -- so today was BJ's first payday. A whole dollar! He wanted it in coins, and when he received it, he declared, "I'm RICH!"
I'm fairly pleased with how the allowance procedure has gone so far. We'd decided that we did not want to pay per chore. We wanted a family understanding that kids were expected to be helpful contributors to the household without being pestered about individual responsibilities. I found a useful "Responsibility Chart" by Melissa & Doug, and BJ has been using it with great success.

He gets to choose up to seven responsibilities to work on each week. For his first week, he chose:

1. Don't Interrupt
2. ONLY Food or Drink In Your Mouth (agreed upon after the doctor's visit last weekend; happily, there have been no complications from the swallowed piece of plastic)
3. Keep Hands To Yourself
4. Clear Table
5. Get Dressed
6. Share
7. Make Bed

At the end of the day, we asked him to review the daily responsibilities and decide how well he did with each one. If there were obvious lapses, we reminded him of them. (As in the case of Sunday, when he swallowed a bit of string first thing in the morning upon our return from the doctor's visit for swallowing the bit of plastic. Sigh.) But mostly, he reflected upon the day and decided for himself.

Here's how he did:

Not bad, eh?

All told, it's a good system so far. I like that I don't have to be in charge of monitoring it. I like that he gets to decide what he wants to work on. I like that we can fill in the blank with two of the responsibilities -- a useful tool for less-than-typical situations like a 5 year old who still has a strong oral fixation. He enjoys putting up the magnets at the end of the day, and he seemed very satisfied in looking back on the week and having a clear visual for what he had accomplished. It's a smart little chart that Melissa & Doug has put together, and it is working well.

And now my kid is one dollar wealthier than he was yesterday. Now we'll have to start working on economics. He hasn't talked about what he wants to do with that dollar -- he's put it in his piggy bank for now -- but it will be interesting to start helping him learn about money and just how much (or little) it can buy. I sense a trip to the dollar store in my future...

BB the Dress Up Queen

BB has been having a grand time playing dress up this week. She has made herself a "paper crown" out of a strip of pink construction paper, and it features prominently in most of her outfit ensembles. Accessorizing is crucial: necklaces, gloves, shoes, -- and a wand and wings, of course!
Once dressed, we dance.
Favorite soundtrack for dancing: Rocky Top by the Osborne Brothers. And of course every good dance sessions needs a dance floor. BB has been asking me to spread out the flower blanket that her Auntie J made for her.

Perfect!

First Week of Kindergarten

It's official: BJ is loving kindergarten. We made it through the first week, and he's doing just great. He loves his teacher, he's making friends, and he's generally enjoying going to school. So far, so good. Whew!

On Friday, we had been forewarned that the kids' coming out of class would provide a bit of a photo op -- and indeed, it was very cute. Every kid was sporting a pair of star sunglasses, because they are all Kindergarten Superstars!


On Friday night, we celebrated a successful week by going to Sweet Tomatoes for dinner. I've mentioned before that one of the things I like best about this school is the sense of community -- and sure enough, the folks we've been meeting are eager to make connections and foster friendships. His class already has a Yahoo! group set up, and I posted on it that we'd be heading out to dinner on Friday night and would welcome some company. We were joined by the family of one of his classmates, C, and we had a nice time.

The coming week will be another week of short days, and then he goes to the full day schedule for week three. Taking it easy and gradual. Here's to week two -- may it go as smoothly as week one!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Friday Feature -- Jargonhead Studios

This week's featured Etsy artist is Abigail of Jargonhead Studios. I love browsing for art on Etsy because the creativity and unique vision is astonishing. I was really moved by this "Study in Solitude" -- so beautiful and evocative.

Enjoy the interview!

1. Please tell us about the items in your Etsy shop. What do you make? How did you learn your craft? What is involved in your creative process?

I sell fine art prints of original paintings and illustrations, as well as some original digital art and paintings. I have been a painter for about 7 years, but just started doing it full-time this year. I received a degree in illustration in college, but have been creating art since I was very young.

My creative process first involves creating initial sketches. For a single painting, I will usually create one or two sketches for the full composition, then extra sketches of any details (such as specific animals or figures). Sometimes I will sketch up to ten final drawings for one painting. Once I have the painting fully complete on paper (and in my mind), I create an abstract underpainting on the blank canvas, which allows me to get the feeling for that painting down. After that, I spend many hours completing the painting.

2. To which Etsy Teams do you belong?

I belong to the SF Etsy Team and the Indie Junction Team

3. Tell us two (or more) other interesting things about you.

My husband is a physicist, and is currently creating an energy efficient lightbulb.
I wanted to be a chemical engineer before I decided to pursue art.
I was a business analyst for UW Madison before we moved to San Jose.

4. What inspires your creations?

Right now I'm working on three different painting series. There is the "Myths" series, which is inspired by an amalgam of creation and apocalypse myths from various cultures; the "Studies" series is inspired by my own personal experiences and focuses on emotion; and the "Everyday Demons" series is a humorous take on the little annoyances that get in our way or make our lives uncomfortable in some way.

5. What is your biggest challenge related to your Etsy shop?

I love the community at Etsy, but it seems to be a harder sell when it comes to purely decorative items such as prints and paintings. I do have a lot of fans, which I love, but actually have an easier time selling items at shows.

6. What is your favorite item in your shop (currently for sale or previously sold)? Why is it your favorite?

My favorite print is for my painting "The Birth of the Universe". I worked on that painting for two years, and love the composition and colors.



7. What crafting skill(s) do you wish you had or hope to learn someday?

Oh, there are so many! Wood turning, lapidary, quilting, puppetry; I love to learn new things, and there are very few crafts I wouldn't jump at the chance to try.

8. What has been your biggest success and/or proudest moment since opening your Etsy shop?

I was really happy to have my "Study in Distress" print featured in The Storque. I think the proudest moment was when I realized that I could actually try doing the art thing full time. I've never felt like that was possible before we moved out to California.


9. Where else can we find out more about you and/or your creations?

You can find out more about me at: http://jargonheadstudios.blogspot.com
Or view my online portfolio here: http://jargonhead.carbonmade.com/

10. Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about your shop or your work?

I love to collaborate with other creative people (artists, musicians, and writers). And I am always willing to trade items!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Everything!

I am more than delighted to be able to say that BJ's second day of kindergarten was another fantastic day for him. As we walked to school, he talked excitedly about how when he got to school he would sit with his two new best friends at "the concrete bench" (the curb outside the classroom) where his teacher has asked students to gather before school. Sure enough, he found J and L at the playground -- and I was relieved to see that it seems his use of the "best friend" label seems reciprocal. When it was time to "line up" (by sitting on the curb) J and L and BJ went over together.

But the first place they went in line, there was only room for two kids to sit. J and L sat down together. BJ stood behind them, asking, "Where can I sit?" L, bless her, immediately pointed to the end of the line, saying, "I know! Why don't we go over there, like we did yesterday, where there's room for all of us?" I could have hugged her. "Yeah!" exclaimed J and BJ as all three of them ran over to the end of the line and sat down together. And from there, when the teacher called them to stand and come into the classroom, he gave me a kiss goodbye and walked in to his second day of kindergarten without looking back.

In fact, most of the kids just trooped on in, without a moment's hesitation. It was all the parents who were having trouble with their goodbyes. I wish I'd had the camera with me (and the chutzpah to use it) to capture all of us, huddled around the doorway, looking bereft as our children got on with the business of being Big Kids and went around the corner, out of sight. Most of us (myself included) ended up going over to the window by the side of the classroom and waving, one last time, at our smiling kids.

Today was a short day (as will be the rest of this week and all of next) and while that presents scheduling difficulties with BB's preschool and nap, I think it's definitely the right decision for the kindergarteners. Day starts at 8:30, and pickup is right before lunch. Today I got there about 15 minutes early. The class had walked together over to another part of campus to have their snack outside, and I hadn't been waiting two minutes before I saw the line of them headed back to the classroom. I sat quietly on the bench, watching. And I have to say, it was with a pang of pride and surprise that I saw how BJ was so intent and content, walking among his new friends. He didn't even notice me! He just walked right by me, less than 5 feet away, and strolled on into the classroom!

A few other parents were also there early, and their kids had noted their presence (that, or the parents had called out to their kids -- something I was tempted to do, but I'm glad I didn't). The teacher had also seen us, and she asked the two or three other kids along with BJ to invite their parents to come into the classroom for the last story of the day. (Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten, which was a hit.) BJ then saw me, and his face lit up. Which made being ignored a moment earlier a little bit easier, I confess.

So I got to sit behind BJ (who had grabbed a red cushion, as predicted) and listen to the story (and to help one of his classmates bag up her wet clothes, at the request of the teacher -- guess I have that Helpful Parent look about me already) and then we headed home together, hand in hand. As we waited to cross the street, I asked him, "What was your favorite part of the day?"

His reply: "EVERYTHING!"

And then he went on to say, "Mommy, I want to go to kindergarten for TEN YEARS!!!"

Yes, I'd say he had a good second day!

Monday, August 16, 2010

First Day of Kindergarten

Today was BJ's first day of kindergarten, and he was about as excited as I've ever seen him. He's been counting down the days for more than two weeks, and this morning he was bursting with anticipation.



Of course BB was excited too, and wanted to be part of everything.
I'd made up a little "start to school" gift for each of them -- a little belated for BB, but oh well -- including a new backpack for BJ. He Loves It.
We walked to school, and he would have run the whole way if it had been up to him!
He slowed down a wee bit when BB insisted on holding my hand for the walk. Because then, of course, BJ wanted to hold my hand too.

Who knows how much longer he will be content to hold my hand while we're out for a stroll.... I'm trying to appreciate every instance like this, I really am. I'd been anticipating the bittersweet moment of seeing, firsthand, how ready he is for this new chapter in his life, and sure enough he was rarin' to go. Here he is saying goodbye to S before heading into the classroom:

The school was really thoughtful about the gentle way they are starting off the year for these little (but not so little) guys. They'd had a BBQ on Friday night, which allowed many of the kids and families to meet and start making friendships. We ended up sharing a table with a family who has a daughter, J, in BJ's class. As we chatted over hot dogs and hamburgers, the kids discovered that J and BB both like princesses! And fairies! So the two girls took off and played together on the playground, with BJ close behind.

Apparently, the three of them had a great time, because when it was time for us to go on Friday night, J insisted that she had to say goodbye to BB and give her a hug and kiss. Not to be left out, BJ insisted that he had to give J a goodbye hug and kiss. Which he did. At which point, J scrubbed the kiss off her cheek and declared, "Too Many Kisses!"

But BJ didn't seem too troubled by this. On the contrary, he asked several times over the weekend for us to tell him the story about J and Too Many Kisses. And it couldn't have been too traumatic for any of the individuals involved -- when I picked up BJ at the end of his first day (morning) in kindergarten, he informed me that he and J had declared themselves to be best friends.

Now it will be interesting to see tomorrow if this is just BJ's impression of things, or if J shares his enthusiasm. Here are the three of them playing together at the playground this morning before school started (J is in the yellow dress, holding BB's hand). I think J would very much like to make BB an honorary kindergarten student. (And who knows, all the positive school vibes might rub off and make BB's preschool day tomorrow go more smoothly!)
Whether or not J has fully reciprocated with the terminology, it's quite reassuring to see our sometimes-less-than-social guy so excited about friendships. In fact, BJ told me that he and J and another girl, L, are all three of them best friends after today. (L was another girl we met briefly on Friday night at the BBQ.) It's all very sweet.

Another way the school is being smart about easing the kids (and their parents) into The Real World of Real School: today school started at 8:30 a.m. and parents were welcome to be with their students until 9; at 8:40 the parent organization set up a coffee hour in the courtyard to welcome parents old and new; kindergarten only lasted until 10:10 a.m., so most of the kindergarten parents simply hung around at the coffee, sharing small talk and cliches about how fast the kids are growing up until it was time to pick up said kids. S and I hung out on the playground with BB and several other kindergarten families. Very pleasant. And BB loved the "big kid" playground equipment!

Actually, I was impressed that I managed not to get all weepy today. I had a moment while we were walking to school, when we were waiting for the light to change so we could cross the major street in front of the school. I looked around, noting many parents with their kids, and I was struck with an almost overwhelming feeling of shared goodwill -- all these folks trying to do so well by their kids. That nearly got me going. But the light changed, the moment passed, and BJ pulled me towards his classroom. He was more than ready to go!

And naturally, I found myself thinking about my own kindergarten days. I don't remember much, though I do remember being very interested in the idea of school. I recall equating school with homework and being disappointed that I wasn't given any in kindergarten. (In fact, if I remember right, I asked for homework and was given a few dittoed worksheets. This says worlds about me -- not to mention dating me by the detail of those dittoes. I loved them -- their smell, their slightly fuzzy blue lettering, the way they would be warm to the touch when fresh, literally "hot off the presses.")

My mom emailed me this morning to tell me a little bit about my own first day of school: "I can still see you in your yellow jumper getting on the bus...you got on the school bus and never looked back. You were so excited to start your adventure." And so was BJ, today. Eager to begin, full of excitement about everything.

When we first went into his classroom, his teacher had told everybody they could explore -- anything that was out on the table was available to be played with. BJ wanted to find something having to do with science, naturally, and I did a little parental spin to convince him that building with blocks had a scientific aspect (what else is engineering, eh?) and he had a ton of fun making a "robot."
All told, right now I really couldn't expect to be happier with the start of BJ's schooling. After having spent many a sleepless, stressful night worrying about his educational prospects (a natural worry, I suppose, for a parent of a bright child who, among other things, started reading before age 3 and knows more about human anatomy at age 5 than I ever did) I am feeling (mostly) relaxed and content with our situation. For so long, I was so worried that school would squelch the amazing spark for learning that burns so brightly in him. He is so full of joy about Learning New Things. I'd never want to see him lose that, and I am all too aware of how a less than ideal school situation can dampen or even eliminate such enthusiasm.

But I'm feeling very lucky tonight. Everything lined up, just in time, for us to get BJ into this school. I am very impressed by the school, its philosophy and community, and I simply adore his teacher. BJ seems very fond of her, too -- he wanted his picture taken with her today at the end of the day, though he wouldn't look at the camera while I was taking it!
And -- further evidence of the teacher's amazingly kid-friendly qualities, so did BB:
Sure there are things one might wish to be different -- the class size jump to 30 is not ideal (it was 20 last year) but they are doing what they can to manage that. On Friday morning, during the parents' work time, they were hanging extra hooks for backpacks.
And the teacher was disappointed that she had to get rid of her alphabet rug for the year. Apparently, in years past, she had used it for circle time and directed the kids to each choose a letter to sit on. Can't exactly do that for 30 kids. So she's using cushions instead. I'm betting that BJ will be scrambling for one of the red ones...

So it isn't perfect -- and I have to say, 30 kids this morning, plus one or two parents per kid, plus a few younger siblings... that was one crowded classroom! Full to the brim. But full of goodness, full of love, full of joy. Yes, joy. That was my biggest impression when I first went to tour the campus of the school over a year ago now. The place feels full of joy. What a relief to still have that feeling as BJ started there this morning. And I'm so very, very proud of my (not so) little boy. (And ok, I admit it, I managed to stay tear-free for the whole day, until I sat down to write this post. Good thing there are tissues at my desk.)

Here's hoping that tomorrow is another great schooling day!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Penguins

Today, BB kept asking me, "Mommy, how many penguins do you have?" Bewildered, I kept trying to get her to clarify what she meant. "Penguins? Why would I have penguins?" After five minutes or so of going round and around, I realized what she was really asking:

"Mommy, how many patience do you have?"

As you might have guessed, Mommy didn't have a whole lot of penguins left at that particular moment. (Whenever your kids start asking you about your level of patience, it's a pretty good clue that your patience levels are low to nonexistent.) In fact, I felt as though the entire parcel had swum away. (Or perhaps been picked up by the post and mailed to another country -- I didn't know until today that the collective noun was a parcel of penguins, but it fits.)

Why so impatient, you ask? Well, among other things, BJ decided to use the last 5 minutes of his rest time dismantling one of these -- with his teeth -- and in the process he swallowed a piece of plastic from the bottom of the toy. Ah, cheap plastic party favors made in China, how I despise thee.

Aren't kids supposed to get past that "I'm gonna try to swallow everthing" stage by the time they are two days away from going to KINDERGARTEN? For heavens sakes???

And yet there he was, coming out of his rest time, pink "flute" in hand, explaining how he'd managed to swallow part of it. And telling me, in an increasingly panicky tone of voice, that he still felt it in his throat.

After a phone consultation with the Kaiser advice nurse (how I heart the Kaiser advice nurse, general savior and soother of all my parental medical anxieties) we agreed that BJ didn't seem in imminent peril. She had me check for breathing issues, had him swallow several mouthfuls of water -- happily without any choking -- and scheduled an appointment for him tomorrow morning, just to be sure everything is OK. I hung up the phone with a list of things to look for (breathing difficulties, stomach pain, vomiting, trouble swallowing) and none of those things have appeared yet.

But I tell ya, it's enough to scare off any number of penguins. A whole freakin' huddle. (Yes, I do love me a good collective noun list.)

My hope for tomorrow?

More penguins.

And less time worrying about stuff my kids have swallowed.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday Feature -- Happy Anniversary Etsybloggers!!

This week, for something different, I'm devoting my Friday Feature space to helping spread the word about the Etsybloggers Anniversary Sale! I love being part of the Etsybloggers Team, and I'm delighted to be participating in the sale this weekend to help celebrate the team's 3rd Anniversary.

At Mama's Magic Studio, receive free shipping on all my handmade knitting needles by mentioning Etsybloggers when you check out. Discount refunded to Paypal.


Check it out -- all the shops below are taking part in the sale!







































































































































































Thursday, August 12, 2010

Kid Humor

Recently, the kids have been discovering The Wonderful World Of Cheesy Jokes. BJ especially finds great pleasure in telling jokes and has started making up ones of his own.

What do you call a really old statue of an ant?
An ANTIQUE!

What does a teacher who is a lion say to her class?
Everybody LION up!

What food has rooms in it?
MUSHROOM!

What food do you have to run really fast after to catch up to it?
KETCHUP!

Clearly, he has begun to understand the joy of word play.

BB mostly sticks to Interrupting Cow:

Knock Knock!
Who's there?
Interrupting cow!
Interrupting cow wh..
MOOO!!!!

She works so hard on the timing for this one -- she tells it with her whole body. Which is funnier than the joke itself, actually.

At least they haven't yet discovered potty humor. Yet....

Outings!

We've been taking advantage of the last few days before kindergarten starts to visit some of our favorite local places --

On the weekend, S took BJ to the local planetarium. Can you say fun? BJ sure can. I mean, the kid got to pretend he was an astronaut.
On Tuesday, BJ had a park day to meet some of the other students who will be in his kindergarten class. (The fact that they have such a get-together scheduled before school starts is one of the many reasons I'm so thrilled about his school.) We got to talk to his teacher again, deliver the drawings she had asked for last week, and meet many of his peers-to-be. It was especially nice that it happened to be scheduled for a Tuesday, so we could go while BB was in preschool and focus only on BJ.

Yesterday, we went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium with our excellent friends A and C. C and BB are nearly the same age, and as of yesterday they are officially "Best Friends" -- C found one of those matching Best Friends necklaces in the gift shop and declared that she had to get it for her and BB, because BB was her Best Friend. BB wore the "Best" half for the rest of the day, absolutely delighted. So very sweet! Here are the girls wearing their necklaces -- and here's what happens when you ask two preschoolers to smile... this was the best shot of about six:

The aquarium was great fun. I really enjoy A's company (and C's too!) and it was nice to be able to chat in the car and catch up a bit. The kids got along really well. They especially enjoyed the wall where the wave crashes over their heads:

And they were peas in a pod at the dancing seahorses movie -- I think they watched it three times!
Today, S and I took BJ to the Children's Discovery Museum while BB was in preschool. This being the last preschool day for BB before his kinder starts on Monday, we wanted to do something special with him. CDM was his choice, and we had a great time. Here's S and him making the treadle go:
And as always, the bubble area was very popular. Clearly, making bubbles is serious business.

We finished the day with a family dinner -- pizza at Round Table and then ice cream dessert at our favorite parlor. Yum!

So the days have been very, very full as summer winds to a close. Even though there are, technically speaking, a good many summer days remaining before Fall begins, I can't help but think that once school starts the summer is over.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Visit to Nana

Our trip last week to visit Nana J was full of fun -- as promised, here are some pics from our visit!

We had a great time at the Kidspace Children's Museum in Pasadena. The tunnel into the entrance was very cool -- a mosaic art installation with electric touch screens. Neat!

They had several climbing areas (similar to the one at the Delaware Children's Museum) and I was proud to see that the kids both wanted to try them out -- and were willing to help each other do so!
Looking up -- that's BB on the blue circle. It was supposed to be a series of "rain drops" that they climbed up.
Not surprising that BJ liked the tent that focused on astronomy (even though there really wasn't much in there during the daytime, aside from this cool chalk chart).
BB liked the butterflies and the butterfly show, when these guys were released.

She even got up during the show and volunteered to dance around, flapping her wings like a butterfly! For about ten seconds, anyway. As you can see, I was quick with the camera.

BJ was partial to the dinosaur show. He shouted out answers (all of them correct, natch) and was all around delighted. At the end, he got to go up and touch this:

Real dinosaur poop on the left and dinosaur eggs on the right!


He also loved the "excavation" area, where they could "dig" out fossils and dinosaur bones.


The snakeskin was pretty fascinating, too:

But perhaps the most fun of the day was had in the "stream" where the kids could splash around. It starts with a waterwheel and goes down through some waterfalls into a small pond area.

(PSA -- they require shoes for the water play area, though this isn't very clearly stated in their website, which we checked out before we visited. After being taken to task for allowing our children to play barefoot in the water (horrors!) we ended up having to shell out $15 each for flip flops for the kids in their gift shop -- it was either that, or leave the museum with very disappointed kids. The flip flops were their only advertised "water shoe" option, and frankly, the flip flops were much more hazardous than no shoes at all, since they kept tripping the kids and getting kicked off their feet. If you're gonna insist on water shoes, neglect to prominently feature that requirement on your website, and direct your guests to purchase them when they didn't bring any, couldn't you at least have a decent selection of *real* water shoes? Sheesh. Yes, I was highly annoyed. Rant Off.)

The next day, we headed to the La Brea Tar Pits. Here they are, behind the fence!
Of course the kids wanted to know if the mammoth statues were real.
(They're not.)

It was really a treat to visit the accompanying Page Museum.
It turned out we were there on a free day -- score! -- but that it was also their busiest day of the year, being the last free day before the start of school. One of the docents informed us that more than 6,000 visitors usually come through on the free Tuesday in August, and the press of people certainly felt that way!

BJ loved seeing the research area and all the signs explaining what the scientists were doing with the fossils and bones.
The mammoth skeleton was hugely impressive. I do mean, hugely! An average size, apparently, at 12 feet tall and 15 thousand pounds.

The wall of Dire Wolf skulls was the most memorable exhibit for me -- 404 skulls as a representation of the more than 1600 found on site. The artistic display was truly striking!

It was nice to take a bit of a breather in the atrium, which wasn't nearly as crowded as the rest of the museum.


After the Tar Pits, we went to the Santa Monica Pier. After our trips to the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, the kids are well trained by now to appreciate beach amusement rides.


Thanks, Nana, for a great time! Lots of fun, happy kids, and good memories made!