- (Pre-)Historically the La Brea Tar Pits (a sticky slick of naturally occurring asphalt) were great at ensnaring all kinds of ice-age animals, and over the years they've yielded hundreds of tons of fossilized remains. The boys loved exploring the museum, getting to watch scientists & volunteers carefully working to unearth & restore what's been dug up. They were delighted to come away with two stuffed sabertooth tigers that they quickly named "Sabertooth" and "Snuggletooth." (You'd kind of think "Saber-maran," right?) In subsequent "T.A.L.B." editions, these railroading Tooth Brothers turned out to be good at shoveling coal with their "steak knives."
- Right next door is Los Angeles County Museum of Art, aka LACMA. We lucked out & came across volunteers who were letting kids make their own African arts & crafts. Of the clay "memory boards" Finn said, "They're like iPads," and they each crafted staffs with pictures of Mom-O at the top. They had a ball exploring the large outdoor art pieces, then were fascinated by the Metropolis II kinetic sculpture (see video below).
- Later we wound our way up to the famous Griffith Park Observatory (you might remember it from Rebel Without A Cause), exploring the grounds & watching their giant Tesla coil in action.
Here's a little gallery from the adventure.
Heh heh—check out this totally fun Photoshop work from my friend Michael Jahn:
"Dad-O, why am I so tall?" asked shadow-gazing Henry in the driveway. "I look like a 10-year-old!!"
Last Thursday was Finny's official first day of Kindergarten. He was definitely prepared: new backpack and lunchbag (with water bottle!), new school clothes (Willow Glen Elementary is a uniform school, which makes getting dressed in the morning a breeze!), and a very positive attitude. We had visited the school the day before for a 90-minute orientation with the teachers and helpers, so he already knew where to find the classroom, his teacher, and the daycare room.
Henry and I dropped him off with a big hug and smooch and wished him a great day. I then proceeded with the low-grade, all-day fretting that must be typical of all parents of a freshly minted Kindergartner: "I hope he's ok, he doesn't know anyone, I hope he remembers to go to the bathroom and eat his lunch, I hope he's being polite, etc. etc..."
Well, turns out I had nothing to worry about. When I picked him up from after school care and asked him how his day went, he looked me straight in the eye, pumped his fist, and said "AWESOME!!! I LOVE KINDERGARTEN!" Phew! That couldn't have gone any better! I remember loving my first day of Kindergarten, too. I guess it runs in the family .
[We're lucky that way, as it apparently doesn't run in every family: Finn's been telling us about a kid named "Ruffy" (go figure) who keeps getting yellow warning cards to the point he's been dubbed "Señor Amarillo." He was sent to the principal's office on the first day, and according to Finn, "they decapitated him!!" He likes to elaborate that "just the head hopped back into the room," and that later Ruffy got reassembled. Rough indeed! :-p --J.]
The last leg of our summer vacation in Southern California was a trip to the San Diego Zoo. We arrived bright and early in the morning, with strollers, camera, and snacks in tow. We had already discussed the various animal exhibits at the zoo with the boys, and unsurprisingly, our man Henry decided we should see the panda bears first. So, off we went to Panda Canyon. Henry could barely contain himself! We got to see two panda brothers eating their bamboo breakfast, and we heard the zookeeper mention that there was a third, one-year-old panda lounging at the top of a pine tree. That little guy was only visible from the sky gondolas, so after we spent some close-up time with the big guys, we hit the sky ride to view the little one from above.
We spent the rest of the day wandering around the beautiful zoo, checking out almost all of the other exhibits (minus the reptile house, which none of us were too excited about). We definitely got our fill of elephants, big cats, birds, hippos, giraffes, koala bears, and native Californian species (including the human spectators!). Here's a gallery from our day.
Last week's main event was a 2-day trip to Legoland, which strategically coincided with John's birthday. I think Dad-O was even more excited than the boys about our visit! We went all out and stayed at the Legoland hotel, which, as you'll see, was great fun and perfectly suited to families with young kids. Our pirate-themed room came with bunkbeds for the dudes, a bucket of Legos to play with, a treasure chest whose combination we had to determine via a scavenger hunt, and a view of the park entrance. The hotel lobby contained several "Lego pits," a giant Lego castle to play in, Lego sculptures, and an entrance to the park. The 3 Nack men were in heaven!
The park itself was phenomenal, and perfectly designed for families and kids under 12. While parents stood in line at various rides, there were play areas chock full of Legos for the kids to play with until their turn on the ride was up. There were rides of all sorts - rollercoasters, ride-on vehicles, boats, pedal cars, squirting cannons, firetruck races, and a pirate ship ride with water cannons. We spent an entire day just taking advantage of the water attractions in the pirate area and the Lego water park! [Poor Henry found the "lazy river" not so relaxing as he slipped through my hands, through our double inner tube, and completely under the water! Fortunately he recovered & excitedly joined me in collecting the giant rubber Legos that floated alongside us. --J.]
There were also tons and tons of Lego sculptures of all sorts — life-sized Darth Vader & Chewie, the biggest Lego-model ever created (of a Star Wars X-Wing fighter), tons of miniature scenes from Star Wars movies, and miniature Lego cities like Las Vegas, Washington DC, San Francisco, and New Orleans. Henry enjoyed the miniature cities the most - and returned over and over again to observe all the little moving Lego vehicles, boats, trains, animals, etc.
Here are some vids and a gallery of pictures of all the things we got to see and do!
The dudes (now happily slumbering) are having a ball so far. More news to come, but first we're off to Legoland!
Family Adventure Week has begun! This week we are planning visits to California Adventure at Disneyland, Legoland (for Dad-o's birthday), and the San Diego Zoo. We'll also be tucking in visits to various beaches and even the La Brea Tar Pits (thanks to pal Samantha for that suggestion!).
We set out for Los Angeles yesterday morning, and after a not-too-long car ride, we arrived at Santa Monica around 5pm. We figured after a day in the car, the guys would appreciate some good beach time. And boy, did they ever! Braving the gusty and cool conditions, the guys horsed around in the sand and surf until we tore them away for some dinner and a car trip to our hotel in Anaheim. Here are some fun shots of their antics plus a little video at the bottom:
"It takes a village," they say—specifically, a village of mischievous dads planting ever-so-slightly bad ideas in kids' heads.
On Sunday our motorcycle-riding neighbor Chris had just returned from the racetrack & invited the lads to sit astride his sport bike—and even give the throttle a loud rev! Having long been dubbed KOBI (King Of Bad Ideas), and with Margot safely out of the country, I thought it great to plant this seed in them now. (Seriously, though, Chris made the boys be super careful around the hot tailpipe, and they were quite respectful & well behaved.) A few pics:
As Margot detailed the other day, we had a ball traveling to Sacramento by train with my folks. Here's a gallery from the excursion, showing off the deservedly famous California State Railroad Museum.
Just like their human master, Finny's lion pride is blonde & meat-lovin'. As Henry would conclude the ABCs song, "...next time won't you sing with meat."
"Equal parts grumpy old man and delightful, snuggly, hilarious kid," says Margot of Henry*, and I fully agree. Amazingly it's been a full four years since our crazy little "El Segundo" barnstormed into town. What a crazy ride...
We're a bit pooped from taking the lads out for some celebratory sushi, but here's a little gallery of the terrific party we had on the Fourth with our wonderful pals, plus some delightful present-opening with my folks & then this morning.
And from memory lane:
* She also says this about me
This year marks the second year we've taken the Micronaxx camping at Big Basin with a bunch of our Las Madres friends and their kids. Last year John was flying solo with the boys because I had a weekend workshop. So, this year was my first time going! We had a blast! We were the first ones to arrive at the camp site on Friday afternoon, so we had our pick of places to pitch our tent. The boys always get really excited about setting up and then testing out the tent and air mattresses, and then proceed to running around and exploring the campground.
There were tons of things for everyone to do, thanks to many of the crafty and camp-expert moms who helped plan the trip. We checked out a tipi made of large branches at the edge of the campground. And of course, we had s'mores after roasting hot dogs for dinner on Friday night. Then the kids ran around in the dark with their headlamps on - which looked like a giant swarm of fireflies.
On Saturday morning, the kids got to paint some bandannas and water bottle holders, which they then took on a short hike to the little waterfall down the trail. We also looked for, and found, banana slugs, which are now known as "bonobos" based on a TALB that was borne out of last year's sighting.
Here's a little gallery of all the proceedings.
As you may well know, Margot & I have long enjoyed calling one another "Peanut" (feel free to roll your eyes—I'll wait ), and long before we were even engaged, I made her a sort of bizarre "peanut car" from Legos. It carried peanut M&M's, and I added the license plate "BIFURC8" for fun:
Here's a clip of the boys discovering it yesterday in Margot's office.
Anyway, it only took us the better part of a decade, but we've now kitted out a real car (the A8) with "BIFURC8"! That is some nerdy, nerdy family love—i.e., just our two-lobed cup of tea!
Well, our first (pseudo)academic milestone has come and gone. Our man Finny "graduated" from preschool last week, and is now officially on his way to Kindergarten in the fall. The Maestras at Pasitos put on a really fun little ceremony and potluck dinner for the graduates and families. All the kids got to make gold cardboard mortarboards and decorate them, and they each got to walk up and receive a little certificate while the Maestras said something nice about them. It was very cute and Finny was very proud. At the end, all the kids and Maestras danced to "Guantanamera."
Henry, on the other hand, had a complete and utter meltdown just before the ceremony started. Tons of shrieking and crying to the state of hyperventilation. (Of course, this happened front and center next to all the waiting families...) "No one is paying attention to me, Mom-o! No one is playing with me! Why don't I get a present?" I think we finally got a big ol' glimpse of sibling jealousy. I got him calmed down enough with a little lap time, and then he was off riding a tricycle behind the ceremony until it was finished and the rest of the kids could play.
Here's a gallery of the afternoon's proceedings, including a fantastic surprise visit by some Mexican heritage dancers in full costume. As Henry noted: "Mom-o, they're not wearing pants, or shoes and socks..or shirts!" But they had some mighty cool feathered headdresses and rattles on their ankles.
Finny enjoys an ice cream-induced "brain freeze":
Henry attends the Preschool of Rock:
Hans & Franz, The Next Generation: