Tuesday, September 29, 2009

What a day...

that's what we kept saying when we got home from our adventures this past Saturday. My BFF and her family were en-route from Utah to a family reunion at the beach so we met them in LA for a few kid-friendly activities. Their two boys are the ages of our girls so it worked out well. We met at Traveltown in Griffith Park for some train exploration and a ride on the mini-train. D visited this place as a child and in his words, "The only thing that's changed here in 30 years is the awning they built over the train engines." The kids loved it and the train ride was a highlight.

Sharing candy pumpkins Little S bought at the Jelly Belly Station before we got to Traveltown. It's the candy store around the corner from D's childhood home where he took his quarters for candy-gum fixes.

Self portraits during the train ride - everyone keeps telling us how much Baby J looks like her daddy.

Next stop: dinner. I talked everyone into trying Milk - a West LA ice cream parlor, bakery and diner that makes everything in-house - even their own ice cream. Milk did not disappoint. The from-scratch mac and cheese we ordered for the kids was awesome not to mention the ooey-gooey ice cream sundae. My little sis Lindsay was with us and after trying Milk's red velvet cupcake she's considering them for the wedding festivities next year.

Self portrait (she's quite the photographer these days) - notice the red velvet crumbs

Last stop: Griffith Park Observatory for the Public Star Party. One night each month amateur astronomers bring their telescopes to the observatory and let visitors gaze through them. We underestimated the number of visitors and the parking issues but in his typical fashion D wheeled and dealed with parking attendants and we parked in the closest lot to the observatory. (Traffic was a headache all day - there were big events at the Greek Theater and the Kodak Theater causing major traffic issues on all the streets we were cruising).

Little S's pic of the pendulum in the entry of the observatory - I think it's a pretty artistic image!

Monday, September 21, 2009

7 1/2 months

How can she be that old and where has the time gone? Baby J sits up these days without falling backward. She loves to pick up the tiniest bits of crumb or whatever on the floor. She has the sweetest voice, saying "mama-mama," and as of last week, her "ba-ba" sounds. Baby J's bottom teeth came in in July and we noticed this weekend that she a top tooth is poking through (not a front tooth, though; a fang, just in time for Halloween). She sucks on her upper lip and looks like an old lady without dentures (see bottom pic).

She loves to watch big sister run around the house - Little S can get Baby J smiling and laughing like no one else. Little S is happy to have a live student for her daily school she sets up in her room even though Baby J makes a lot more noise than the other students (who are all dolls). We love our Baby!

Friday, September 18, 2009

French Friday

For your listening pleasure I share one of my favorite songs:

D and I discovered Carla Bruni a few years ago while perusing in my favorite shop downtown. I asked the clerk who was playing and then went and bought the album the next day. This is the first song on that album. Last weekend I happened upon a documentary about Carla on the Sundance Channel. I enjoy documentaries and this one was no exception - I did not realize she married President Nicolas Sarkozy of France last year!

Carla is a former model - most famous during my coming of age years in the mid-1990's when supermodels and their salaries soared to new heights. (I was a Vogue addict during high school - I loved (still do) the high-art style of Vogue compared to other magazines.)

France has been on my mind a lot lately and I thought it a good subject for a post.

I did not love Paris. My time there on study abroad was ok, but not fantastic. The art, now that's another story, because the art in Paris IS fantastic (we spent 3 days in the Louvre, a day at the Orsay and days at countless other museums throughout the city). The city itself and the people did not seduce me. But I'm starting to change my mind.

I read Julia Child's My Life in France and enjoyed Paris through her eyes because she learned to love those things about Paris and French people that usually annoy or offend Americans - the inefficient services, the tedious procedures for everything, the aggressive opinions, etc. Julia learned to love the French passion for high quality in all things. That is what I've been trying to embrace lately - developing a love for having a FEW fine things instead of lots of mediocre or plain things. It's that American obsession with having lots of stuff - big stuff like SUVs and cookie-cutter McMansions and giant dinner plates with piles of food on them - that I'm trying to purge. All that "stuff" is not necessary!

Then I read Sarah's Key last week. A fictional story about an actual event in Paris (though it's not often talked about). The 1942 roundup by French police of 13000 Jewish families who were all eventually killed in concentration camps. It was a heart-wrenching story. D kept saying, "Why are you reading that depressing book?" He and I both don't really do WWII stories because they make us so sad. But my mother-in-law recommended it and I went for it and it made me appreciate my own circumstances and so many other things I won't go into.

On a lighter note, Little S has been OBSESSED with Madeline lately. She's had the books since birth but a few weeks ago got into 2 cartoon dvds of Madeline's adventures in Paris and America. Little S now says, "Viola" constantly - especially when she completes something like getting her shoes on or drawing a picture. Little S has her first paying job now - she's doing things around the house to earn the $5 for the "real person" Madeline dvd at Target (it's not a cartoon and she's way excited about the possibilities that are contained in that movie!).

At the Getty last weekend, D and I saw a fantastic exhibit of the photographs of the master Irving Penn (famous for his Vogue spreads, of course!). The show contained the images he took of "Small Trades" workers in Paris, New York and London during the 1950s - seamstresses, butchers, newspaper sellers, etc. We had fun trying to determine which subjects were French and which American before reading the labels.

Finally, check out the blog stephmodo for some French eye candy. This BYU alum and her husband and 3 kids are renovating a small chateau in the French countryside to eventually run as a bed and breakfast.

Au revoir! Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Busy Weekend

Friday night D met Little S at the LA County Fair - she arrived earlier with our friends via the train. It was a thrill for her to buy train tickets, ride the train, and coax her friend Hayden into a game on the train:
Little S, "Let's pretend we're Mexican kids."
Hayden, "How do we do that?"
Little S, "We speak Spanish to each other."
I believe (and hope) this comes from her old obsession with Dora...

Anyway, she loved the fair (though D has no plans of returning). She enjoyed the pig and duck races, won a goldfish, rode the ferris wheel, and finally got the cotton candy she's been talking about for days. To our surprise, she went down the huge (2 stories tall?) kid slide all by herself. The worker handed her the gunny sack and she marched on up to the top and went for it. D stood in shock at the bottom of the slide and watched her face turn to, "oh no, this is really scary" about half way down the slide. "No picture?" I said to D when he recounted the story - sorry, he was too busy watching her in case she caught air on the way down the slide. He came home at 10pm with a sleeping 3-year-old in one arm and our new pet fish, Goldie, in the other.

Saturday morning we headed to the Getty Museum for family days - art activities, storytelling and music performances geared towards children. We called D's brother and sister last minute and they met us there so the 6 cousins could enjoy the day together. The theme was based on a French art exhibition the Getty had up so the kids colored berets, made "bronze" sculpture and decorated frames with clippings from French magazines.

The biggest hit with our little art connoisseurs was the art detective card game the kids were given upon arrival. 4 baseball sized cards each had a detail of one work of art with its location and a mystery question to answer about the work of art. We took the kids into each room and they searched high and low for the special artwork. One of the guards even gave the kids an additional clue when we entered his room of the museum. The kids LOVED it!! Cousin B was begging all the adults to take her to go "find the mysteries again" at the end of our visit.
The art detectives in front of one of the mystery pieces - a nice Alma-Tadema.

More sleuthing - the rams that are the legs of this marble table were another of the mystery pieces. My mom says she wants to see more pics of me, so here's one of me trying to lecture my child about the details of this work of art - Cousins A and B seem interested in what I have to say :)
These performers welcomed you to the Getty as you got off the tram - the flamingo was stealing things out of people's diaper bags with its beak!

Selecting tools to create her bronze sculpture masterpiece
She looks so French in her beret!