Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles

photo by Gary Zorko 
The one really rainy day we had while we were in L.A. we spent at the Natural History Museum.  They had a brand new dinosaur exhibit and Selena had been wanting to see real dinosaur fossils.  Overall the museum is targeted towards older kids which is probably why kids 5 and under are free, but the girls still enjoyed it.


  • The museum is mostly bones and taxidermy.  The dinosaur bones were pretty cool.  There was one exhibit that you could put together a dinosaur skeleton yourself.  If we had gone a couple months earlier Selena would have been absolutely thrilled, as it was she was over her dinosaur phase, and her interest level was more moderate.  
  • There was a bird section that I enjoyed.  Poor Selena ran smack into a window and completely collapsed.   I found it ironic that it was a bird exhibit where it happened.  After that she came up with the heuristic, "to look with her hands first."  
  • The seashell section was fun too.  We had been collecting lots of seashells and they had an oyster shell that was so big it could have fit one of the girls.  
  • I liked the rock section.  They had a quartz sphere on display that looked like a magical crystal ball.  I wanted one.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Do You Want to See A Magic Trick?

Allie is creeping up on three years old.  The fun thing she is into right now is magic tricks.  Amazing tricks she can do with her own body--like balancing on one foot, running really fast, climbing over and under stuff, going upside down.  :)  She is constantly asking us to watch the newest trick she has figured out.

Jokes are another fun item.  Just follow the formula and people laugh.  Knock, Knock.  Who's there?  You?  You who?  Ha ha ha ha.  Why did the baby wear a yellow dress?  Because it was yellow day.  Ha ha ha ha.  They never get old.

She is still very into computers and has figured out how to use the mouse all on her own.  She no longer needs Selena, Floyd or I to navigate for her. is her favorite hang out.

She likes to run, but dislikes it when Selena doesn't give her a head start.  She's gotten especially devious in the last few months thinking of ways to torment her older sister.  She says she only torments Selena when Selena is being mean to her.

Her favorite things to eat are eggs and peanut butter and jelly, bananas and stinky sandwich.

She likes pretending she is a baby, and she folds up nicely in your arms--so soft and squishy. :)  The other night Selena was asking her if she remembered being a baby, and she said yes.  I asked her if she remembered being in my tummy and she said, yes it was comfy and warm.  Selena asked her if she remembered drinking mom's milk and she said yes, it tasted like yummy strawberries.  She has an active imagination, so I'm not sure if she was just playing with us.

She likes telling stories, especially ones about bad guys, and the big bad wolf.  She likes pretending she is the gingerbread man, running fast as she can.  She likes petting Dyna and playing with her.  She brings her dolls over and snuggles with her.

I had to turn around her car seat because she was too tall.  I just turned Selena around a few months ago, but Selena's car seat is a lot bigger.

As a one year old she was very adventurous, but as a two year old she got a big cautious--less likely to climb up high.  Now she seems to be getting a bit more daring and a bit more independent.  She is constantly bringing chairs over and getting things she shouldn't be getting out of cupboards.  She also has a habit of sticking stuff up her nose.  It is really frustrating.

She is too cute! I love getting big hugs from her.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Use of Computers In Education

Check out my post about using computers for learning over at

Monday, March 19, 2012

First Mobile App Launch

I released my first app today!  Check it out for free on Google Play aka the Android Market. 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

California Adventure

Floyd and Allie waiting for the Muppets to start.
We went to California Adventure on a weekday that was forecasted for rain.  We decided that we were from Washington and rain and clouds were our specialty.  Overall the weather really wasn’t that bad.  It barely rained at all and we just wore coats and sweatshirts.  The good thing about going on a day when the weather isn’t that nice is that the lines are really short.  

It seemed like a lot of the attractions in the park are shows rather than rides, and most of the rides are for older taller kids.  Allie’s favorite ride was the Ariel ride.  She loved the characters and songs even though she has never seen The Little Mermaid.  Selena said Ariel was her favorite too, but at the time it seemed like she enjoyed the bumper car ride more.  My favorite was the Toy Story ride.  You put on 3D glasses and get to shoot stuff like an arcade game.  Floyd went on the big roller coaster - California Screaming.  He said it was really fast.  

We went and saw Aladdin performed at the theater and it was really good.  It was probably the best play I’ve seen, not that I’ve seen a ton, but I enjoyed it a lot.  I like the sound track for Aladdin so there was also some nostalgia to add to the enjoyment.

Other highlights were the Muppets 3D show, Disney Junior Live show, the Redwood Creek Challenge obstacle course, and the World of Color fountain show.  The fountain show is their lure to get you to stay in the park the whole day.  They have an elaborate fast pass system that works as a ticket system for the show.  You can pay for fast passes by buying various food, or you can stand in line and possibly get a free one.  We got the free one, but didn’t have to stand in line because the park was pretty much empty due to the less-than-perfect weather.  We got to the show viewing area about 40 minutes early and had staked out a decent spot, but once the show started everyone crowded around and some kids squirmed around us and blocked some of my view.  The show was impressive, kind of like the Bellagio show in Vegas, but longer (about 30 minutes) and fancier.

Overall my experience was that California Adventure isn’t as cool as Disneyland, while it has some fun individual attractions that probably make it worth going, the park as a whole isn’t as entertaining.  Part of this was due to the fact that there was lots of construction.  We had watched Cars the night before because we thought it would make going to Cars Land more fun, but it wasn't open yet. In Disneyland, while you are walking along the pathways there are lots of interesting plants, characters, buildings, etc to look at, but in California Adventure there are lots of long paths, with nothing to look at.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


In general I thought the girls were a bit young for Disneyland and had always assumed that we would go when they were a bit older, but since we were going to be in Los Angeles I figured we had to do it.  They haven't seen very many Disney movies, so they weren't familiar with most of the characters.  They enjoyed it, though I'm not sure if they would have considered it the highlight of the trip.

We got a three day park hopper tickets to Disneyland and California Adventure.  We spent two days at Disneyland and one day at California Adventure.  Our first trip to Disney was on a warm Monday in the end of January.  The lines were relatively short and I am so glad that we were able to make this trip on a weekday in the off-season.  I don't handle crowds well, ever since I almost got trampled alive at Disneyland as a teenager on the 4th of July.  This time it was a much better experience.

We got there around noon and spent most of our time in Fantasyland, Toon Town and Adventureland.  Selena liked the roller coaster in Toon Town and the Pirates of the Carribean.  Allie liked Cinderella.  She fell asleep in the Haunted Mansion and slept through Pirates.  The great thing about Disneyland is that, unlike the fair, they don't have height restrictions on most of the rides, so we were all able to go on them together.

Toontown was fun.  There are a lot of things for the kids to climb on and the buildings look cool.  For some reason it kind of reminded me of the Venetian in Vegas and I kept thinking the sky in Toon Town was fake--but it isn't.  There is one part where there is a dynamite device, where you lift the handle and push down.  Most of the time it is a dud and makes a funny noise, but every once in a while it will "explode" the building.  Lots of kids tried it, and it didn't explode, then Selena tried and it exploded.  She thought it was hilarious.  Then some teenagers were trying and it didn't explode, they finally gave up, and Allie went and did it, and it exploded.  She was really proud.  Who knows, maybe it only explodes for cute little girls. :)

My favorite ride was the Jungle Cruise.  It is hard to say how much humor the guide adds to the ride, since many of the jokes are scripted.  But our guy was asking who was visiting, and I said we were from Washington.  He asked if we were from AC or DC.  Not knowing how to reply I said “state” (which is one of my pet peeves, why do I need to qualify it, don’t people from DC say DC?).  He replied, “Ahh AC, above California.”  :D I also ditched Floyd and the girls for a little bit and rode Indiana Jones. It wasn't quite as exciting as I remembered it as a kid.

We watched the parade at night and then headed home. The girls fell asleep on the way.  It was a fun day.

We went to Disneyland again about a week and a half later (we had to use all three visits within 13 days). This time we went on a warm Thursday in the beginning of February and once again the crowds were reasonable.

We went and explored Tomorrowland since we hadn’t gone there yet.  The first ride we went on, I thought I would be okay, because I handled Dumbo, but the spaceship ride was a lot faster and made me a bit nauseous.   Floyd rode Space Mountain and we all rode the submarine and the car ride.

Allie fell asleep on the submarine ride so we decided to head to Toon Town so Selena could ride the roller coaster again.  

Then we headed to Adventureland and went to the Pirate Island.  It is pretty cool there are lots of tunnels and caves to explore with dead bodies and treasure hiding in various niches.  

I decided that I wanted to ride Splash Mountain.  I was a bit hesitant because I didn’t want to get wet, but I decided to go anyway.  Splash Mountain has a line for single’s.  You go up the exit, past the handicap line, past where everyone is loading, and over the bridge.  There was no-one in that line, while the regular line was 45 minutes.  If you don’t have children that you have to go with, I would recommend going in the singles line.  You won’t all get to go together, but you still might to get to go as a pair, and you’ll save a ton of time.  (Indiana Jones also has a single’s line too.  You ask the person at the front and they give you a pass, and you go up the exit.)  I got soaking wet, which was kind of a problem since the sun was going down.  Should have gone earlier. It was still a great ride though.

At one point we were walking and we saw a line, and it said pixie grotto.  My guide book hadn’t said anything about it, but since there was a line we figured we should stand in it.  ;)  Well after about 20 minutes we finally figured out that it was a line to meet pixie characters.  We didn’t think the girls would be too interested, but since we had already stood in line for a while, we figured we should meet them.  Well it ended up being Allie’s favorite part.  She didn’t like the characters in costume, but she did like the pixies and princesses.  She said they were very nice.  

Disneyland is fun. I was proud of myself in that we managed to visit and the only souvenirs we got were some light up necklaces. Floyd was disappointed in the lack of availability of espresso and coffee. Right before we left we finally found out that espresso is at the Plaza Inn, and hidden far in a corner at the Mint Julep bar at the Blue Bayou restaurant. Two days was definitely enough time to see everything we wanted to see with two young girls.  

I checked the The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland 2012 (Unofficial Guides) and found it pretty helpful. It gave us info on what restaurants served what food, and hints on using fast passes and singles lines, and predictions on what age groups like what attractions.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Huntington Dog Beach

We had multiple visits to the Huntington Dog Beach.  The beach is a little over a mile long and there is plenty of sand and water for all.  Dogs aren't allowed on the beaches around where we were, or if they were allowed, only in the mornings and evenings, but on this one stretch of beach they are allowed and can be off leash.  

Our first trip was on the weekend and it was really crowded.  It was hard to find parking and we had to walk quite a ways.  Also the meters only take quarters and you need a lot of them.  We lucked out the first time and parked in a spot with a broken meter.  The farther north you go the less people there were, but also the less parking.  There is one parking lot in the middle of the beach, but you have to scramble rocks to get to the sand because there isn't a walkway.  

Dyna and I went for a run every time we were there.  It was wonderful running barefoot in the sand.  The view was nice, except for the oil rigs.  I tried to turn my head so I couldn't see them, but at the same time they were interesting.  There were rigs out in the ocean, and there were drills across the street from the beach.  There was even a drill in someone's backyard!  Anyway it was nice running in the sun, on the beach, and not having to worry about a leash for Dyna.  Sometimes other dog's joined us for a bit.  Dyna kept on trying to drink the ocean water though.  You think she would have learned after trying it once.  

The girls loved the beach too.  They finally got to find big seashells.  I picked up the biggest ones I could find while I was running.  Both girls wanted to go for runs as well.  On our last visit to the beach Selena and I ran by a spot where there were a lot of seashells in a pile and she was so excited.  She kept exclaiming over and over, "This is the most seashells I've ever seen in my whole life.  This is so amazing! Can you believe it."  She was absolutely giddy.  Our first visit to the beach I limited the girls to bringing two shells a piece home.  Then Nana and Papa came to visit and Selena and Nana collected lots, and lots of shells to bring home.  Nana was great at identifying what kind of animal came from what kind of shell.  Allie went on quite a few runs and kept exclaiming how fast she was.  

Monday, March 5, 2012

First Day at Newport Dunes Resort

Me and the girls got up and ate breakfast.  We headed to Goodwill to try and find some summer clothes for Selena.  She had grown out of all hers.  I couldn't find it for the life of me. So I stopped at Old Navy and asked an employee, he said he had looked for it to and couldn't find it either, so he sent me to one that was a couple miles away. A couple weeks later I realized it was there, it was just named something different, but had the Goodwill logo in the window. Either way it was completely unorganized (clothing was kind of sorted by color, which I think that was about the most inconvenient way it could be sorted, by size would be preferable), but we found a bunch of clothes for 20 bucks. I got lectured by the employees because the girls were sitting on the bikes and toys. Apparently that isn't allowed. But I have found an appreciation for thrift shopping—especially since she completely stained most of the shirts I bought the first day she wore them.

Floyd got up and went for a short run and then headed out to the casino.  One of the reasons we chose to stay at Newport Dunes was that it looked like it would have enough stuff for me and the girls to do when we didn’t have a car.  Today we did our laundry and went to the pool.  The pool was a bit chilly because it was windy, but we had fun.   I was in shock over the weather.  I didn’t really believe that it could be hot and sunny in January.  Amazing.

After swimming we ate some dinner and then played in the sand for a bit.  Selena and Allie were looking for the biggest prettiest seashell they can find.  The shells at the lagoon were all too small. 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Excited To Announce

I've spent the past few months working on some mobile apps and am planning on releasing them soon.  Please check out my new site and blog and keep a lookout here for a giveaway of the app once it is released. :)

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