Thursday, November 24, 2011

Laguna Beach Thanksgiving Break


The tidepools at Laguna Beach in Southern California are within the State Marine Conservation Area. When the tides recedes, the rocky points become homes to little fish, crabs and other anemones. When much of the rest of the country prepared to go "over the snowy river and through the snowy woods to grandmother's house," we headed south and spent the day enjoying the sun, surf, sand and starfish along one of California's most beautiful beaches. 

Monday, October 31, 2011

A Spooky Trip Around the Block

Happy Halloween 2011!


Monday, October 24, 2011

Getty Center

BC (i.e. Before Children), I enjoyed many of the best art museums of the world. Visiting the Lourve and Musee d'Orsay in Paris, the Uffizi in Florence, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York,  Art Institute of Chicago and the National Gallery in Washington, DC, I reveled in getting lost, inspired and awed. Since Alex was born, touring inside the Getty, just a hop, skip & jump from my front door, might as well be 10,000 miles away. But its gardens are a great place for a play date.

The Getty Center sits atop the city of Los Angeles. It is known for its extraordinary views, gardens, architecture and is home to one of two locations of the J. Paul Getty Museum, home to one of the world's most impressive art collections. Alex has visited several times, but never made it inside the museum. He does like the tram ride that takes over a million visitors annually from the parking lot to the hill top. Its not quite Travel Town (see other blog posts), but one of these days, the Getty family will get it right and offer a longer train ride for the little guys and gals. And one of these days, we'll probably make it inside the museum to check out the art too, but I think I'll wait until baby sister Serene stops insisting on touching everything she sees with her sticky little fingers. The curator might frown on that. 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Harvest Time!

Its hard to avoid Underwood Family Farms in October. And, who'd even want to? Its wonderful fun all-year-round, but in October they really go all out. Alex and Serene snacked at the food tents, enjoyed a wagon ride, danced to some live music, ran through a pumpkin patch, got lost in a corn maze, plus all the usual stuff like pony rides, goat feeding, mining for minerals, train rides, bouncers and more. It's an ideal stop for any city kid to learn about farming in a fun, interactive way that allows them to play and pick their own food.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Brevard Zoo

At the Brevard Zoo in Melbourne, Florida kids can zipline atop the tapirs, impalas, lemurs, kookaburas and hundreds of other animals. The exhibits will introduce you to the wilds of Florida, Africa, South America and Australia.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Airboat Tours in Florida

If you want to see dozens of Florida alligators up close, then there is no better way than to speed through the everglades in an airboat. With the wind whipping through her hair, Serene dozed off on mommy's lap as our airboat captain skirted the top six inches of water racing pass gators galore.

GRAIL Rocket Launch

When the GRAIL rocket launched on September 10, 2011 from Cape Canaveral, Floria, Alex and Serene had front row seats at the blast. When your dad is a rocket scientist, rocket launches are among the perks. The Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission are two small spacecraft launched by a Delta II rocket to the moon. The twin spacecraft will work in tandem to map the gravity field of the mooon for scientists to better understand the moon's interior and thermal energy. 

Sports Illustrated Swim Suit Edition Cover Model 2031

Move over Elle, Giselle, Cindy, Heidi, Kate and Christie.....Ladies, your days are numbered on the runway. Make room for Serene basking here in Cocoa Beach, Florida.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

When You are on Top of the World, Pack Diapers

Serene is afraid of heights. We learned that the hard way when we took her to the top of the beautiful stone Galata Tower from the Medieval Ages over looking the Golden Horn in Istanbul, Turkey. We also learned that no matter how good the advertising, Pampers & Huggies just don't quite hold when a little baby girl is scared. The small viewing area circling the top of the tower has the best panaromic views of the city and is packed with tourists. Too narrow to easily pass by the crowds at the top, all of Istanbul was serenaded by Serene's cries.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Skip the Bazaars, Head for the Mall

The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul has over 5,000 shops and attracts hundreds of thousands of people daily who barter for jewellery, ceramics, carpets, embroidaries and much more. But -- it does not have any toys. The Spice Bazaar across town is significantly smaller, but has more of the exotic flare tourists crave with sweets and spices that tantalize all the senses. But -- it is 'smelly' (according to Alex). It also doesn't have any toys. Forum Istanbul, one of Europe's most expansive shopping malls does have toys (and it doesn't smell!) It also has an aquarium -- the Turkuazoo, a Magic Ice Museum, Jurassic Land, bowling alley, cinemas, aracades, and amusement rides! Any guesses where we spent our time?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

100 Chicken Nuggets

Alex managed to never eat a chicken nugget until he was over 4 years old, then his friends introduced him to fast food. Things haven't been the same since. In Istanbul, we visited McDonalds at least twice daily x 12 nuggets a day for a total of 84 nuggets, but then we added in a few miscellaneous nuggets for midnight snacks and the plane rides home. The grand total of nuggets consumed is around 100 ( plus or minus that 1 that got dropped on the ground). Tip? When on vacation, let your kids eat what they want. At home, you've got to follow the rules of a well-balanced diet and make sure children are eating healthy daily. But, when you're 10,000 miles away from home and little tummies are jetlagged growling all hours of the day and night, just get something in them that keeps the kids happy and full. In my early 20s, with Eurail pass in hand, I bounced from city-to-city through Europe using Mickey Ds for pitstops and fill-ups on cheap food. As a mom, I somehow find myself as an advocate for the biggest burger joint in the world thanking them so my kids can eat with security and fun.

Tips from Mommy's Guide to Istanbul Turkey - Part 2

There aren't any pictures of the children at the Sultanahmet (also known as the Blue Mosque) or the Hagia Sophia, two of Istanbul's most magnificant sites. They fussed, whined, cried, stomped and complained their way through the self-guided tours. Tip? You can stay home or you can see the world. Seeing the world means that you won't get to hire the tour guide and hear all the details from history about some of the world's greatest sites. It means that you won't get to visit all the museums or catch the best dinners & late night shows. But, it does mean that you'll get to spend time with your kids in a way that takes you well beyond the park and introduce them to art, architecture, history, culture, geography, politics and so much more in ways that books, teachers, classrooms and schools never will be able to. If only they were a little older.....At 5 years and 10 months, Alex and Serene cruised the streets of Istanbul from a stroller and baby carrier. In a few years, when the history teacher talks about Constantinople, my kids will be able to show off their pictures of the biggest arcade in Istanbul complete with go-karts, McDonalds and the hotel swimming pool. I guess they'll have to learn about Ataturk from the history teacher.