Monday, April 26, 2010

Sophie's Field Trip

I am so happy that I have the ability go on the kids field trips. I am always amazed on how many fathers go on the trips. Normally I go one a year for each of the kids.

Sophie's latest field trip was one I couldn't miss - The California Academy of Science in San Francisco. It did mean taking the bus with 60 kindergartners; however, I really enjoyed my time with Sophie.

I was really surprised on how much Sophie enjoyed the museum.
She really enjoyed the stuffed animals. Hmmm...

There was a live African Penguin exhibit though, and we got there at feeding time. The kids were enthralled by the acrobatics of the the animals.
They of course enjoyed the Aquarium. I was surprised at the quality of the exhibits, it was on league with the Monterey and Long Beach Aquariums. It definitely was much better than the Aquarium of the Bay down at Fisherman's Wharf. We spent much of the morning there.

Each tank was broken up according to the different Pacific Coast environments, including a touch tank for the kids to touch the animals.

Of course Sophie had to see the Jellies and the albino alligator.

We later went back upstairs and saw the natural science section that explained the Galapagos Island and variation.

It was nice to spend time with her and her schoolmates. We had an hour and a half there, including lunch. So it ended up being a whirlwind visit. Lunch was fun too!!

After lunch it was time to get back to Concord and the long bus ride back. 1 hour in your standard school bus.
Actually, this trip to San Francisco was pretty interesting. I was amazed on how many of the kids on the bus had never been to San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, the Trans America Building.
Most of the kids had never been across the Bay Bridge.
One of the kids saw Coit Tower, turned to her dad and said, "Wow, look, there is the Tower of Pisa." Then the father explaining what it actually was.
San Francisco is only 21 miles away from Concord. I guess I have taken it for granted, especially since working there for the last 10 years. Or taking the kids in to the city for walks along Crissy Field or Fisherman's Wharf. Or going to Ocean Beach, driving home through the Presidio and Sea Cliff, and along the Embarcadero.
I feel soo privileged to be able to take the kids on their field trips.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Our Vegetable Garden

On the south side of our house we have an orange tree and a lemon tree. Other than that, it becomes a weed patch and and a place for the opossums and neighbor's cats to take over.

So this year we thought we put this area to some use. We took one afternoon and weeded. The orange and lemon needed some pruning so we cut it back a bit.

I wish we had taken some before pictures, it looked pretty much like a jungle.

This is something I have always wanted to do with the kids.  I have always enjoyed planting.  I think it goes back when I was little.  My earliest memories was planting tomatoes with my grandpa Hugh.  This continued with helping him plant the grapes he would latter make into the best grape jelly.

I also remember in 2nd grade planting summer squash.  It was the first thing I had grown on my own. It was followed by crookneck squash. I remember how proud I was eating them for dinner that summer.
 It wasn't until we moved to Yucaipa that we truly had a real garden.  We planted corn, squash, beets, potatoes, Swiss Chard, Brussel sprouts.  We also planted strawberries in the front of the house.  We also had two peach trees.  I remember the homemade peach ice cream as well as canning a lot in that house.  We even had chickens and fresh eggs from our Rhode Island Reds.

So I am so happy that we have a house that we can do this as a family.  Everyone was involved.  The kids are such hard workers, Emma especially did an awesome job weeding.  I terraced the hill so that we could get the most of the area. 
Of course we planted tomatoes, zucchini summer squash, crookneck squash, and strawberries. We also planted peas, corn, eggplant, cantaloupe, watermelon, and pumpkins.   It is going to be a fun summer project; however, it is something the kids are really looking forward to.  And I can't wait to the kids faces when we see the results of the efforts we put in.

It is going to be a fun summer!!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

How to make Black Sand Strawberry S'mores!!!

A couple in our hall, the Lessers, put together a gathering at Ocean Beach to collect black sand. They had taken pictures of the kids and the idea was to use the black sand like the old toy where you could draw hair, mustaches, etc.

After the black sand collecting, we could play volleyball, fly kites, play in the sand. Later that night we would roast hot dogs and make s'mores. It was a lot of fun.

Collecting Black Sand

So they had an ingenious way of collecting the sand. The black sand at Ocean Beach is made primarily of Maganite. So how the kids would collect the sand is by placing a magnet at the bottom of a plastic cup. They would run the cup through the sand with the black sand collecting on the outside of the cup. Then they would place a plastic baggy over the bottom of the cup, then remove the magnet from the cup. The black sand would then drop into the cup.

Emma and Sophie collected so much of the stuff. It was really fun to watch.

Myles was much happier chasing the waves. The problem this day though was that it was about 57-degrees out and extremely winding. Perfect kite weather, but not for getting wet.

The weather the day before had been in the 80's. That has been our weather this spring.

It was SO windy that the sand was getting into everything.

We still had a lot of fun though.
Emma and Sophie even got to play volleyball, played football, and all of the kids flew their kites.

And the kids got to play with all of their friends.

At the end of the day, we got the bonfire going and the kids had sandy hot dogs and s'mores.

The way the sand was blowing it got into everything. So the s'mores were a bit sandy. We had brought strawberry marshmallows, someone brought homemade ones, and someone brought green.

The kids had an awesome time. And it was a great time to spend with the friends from the hall.

All in all a very great day.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Solvang and Earthquake

For the thirteen years that Beth and I have been married, and especially the ten years since I moved back to California, I wanted to go to Solvang.It was one of those places that I remember going to when I was a child. I especially remember the pastries and danish sausage.I also remember thinking how I associated this place to Danny Kaye and the Inch Worm song.

So on a trip to Southern Cal, we decided to go down 101 and stay in Solvang.
It is kind of funny how you build up a place visited as a child in your mind. And I saw it in the kids. We went into the shops, checked out the cuckoo clocks, and we ate at the Red Viking.My parents have a slide of when I was three standing in this phone booth with my dad's Uncle Roy and Aunt Eda. I thought it was neat to take a picture of the kids in the same place.

We had lunch at the Red Viking Restaurant. I had the Danish Sausage with red cabbage. Myles had the same; however, did not care for it. We also ordered aebleskivers with the raspberry sauce. Kids weren't impressed, and I can't say I was either.

The bakeries were packed with lines out the door. So we passed them up. And truthfully, bakeries really don't interest us like they used to. What is most important is that the kids really enjoyed themselves.

The funnest part of the stay in Solvang though was that we stayed at the Split Pea Andersen Inn. It was here where we were in the swimming pool when the 7.1 earthquake occurred 200 miles away on the Mexican border.

I had always wondered what it would feel like if I was in a swimming pool when an earthquake happened and now I can! Mind you, the people standing next to the pool didn't feel anything. In fact, the manager was outside watering the plants and I had asked her if she felt an earthquake and to look at the pool. She went inside to see if there was anything on the news and found out about the earthquake. It was pretty exciting though.

In the end, while I think I built Solvang bigger in my mind than it actually is. However now our kids can now have the same kind of memory as I did as a kid.