Tag Archives: Things to do with your kids

The Guats Celebrate Dia De Los Muertos

1 Nov

I’m all parented out. On a weekly basis I give about 100 percent, give or take, and with all the festivities that October brought, this month squeezed out every last drop of energy my body possessed. From fall festivals and pumpkin patches to carving Jack-O-Lanterns and trick-o-treating. October kicked my ass.

But like any good parent I didn’t stop at 100 percent … I went for the extra 10 percent on top of that. The overachiever got into me, as did the exhaustion of packing in another activity.

But this one was different. This one had to be done. This one was about culture and remembering family. This one was the Dia De Los Muertos Fiesta. And normally as a good Guatemalan I would have made giant colorful kites and the awesome dish that is fimbre, but I could barely boil water for Mac-N-Cheese so we did without the traditional Guatemalan food, but the festival had plenty of treats to buy.

While exploring all the treats at the festivities, I was happy to explain to my son that this was a celebrations for us … an important day. It was a day of remembering his papa, my dad. We think about him everyday and how much we miss him. And sometimes it sucks and it makes us sad . But on this day we try to remember stories about his life, how he lived it, and how he made us laugh.

Dia de Los Muertos is about honoring those that have passed and I hoped I was able to do that by taking my kids to this celebration and telling them stories about my dad. And in addition to all that reminiscing they seemed to enjoy the culture that came with it.

 

Our day begins ...

Our day begins …

 

As we browsed the festival we ran into some awesome artwork

As we browsed the festival we ran into some awesome artwork.

 

This flask was something I was seriously contemplating.

This flask was something I was seriously contemplating.

 

The little something that caught my eye.

This little something caught my eye.

 

 

But out of all the artwork these tiny hand-crafted skeletons amazed me the most.

But out of all the artwork these tiny hand-crafted skeletons amazed me the most.

 

The altars in the front of the museum were so awesome that my son wanted to know when we were going to build ours ... I need to kick up my Martha Stewart skills.

The altars in the front of the museum were so awesome that my son wanted to know when we were going to build ours … I need to kick up my Martha Stewart skills.

 

After all the artwork we sat to witness the amazing dancers.

After all the artwork we sat to witness the amazing dancers.

 

When the fire came out, my son wanted to go into junior firefighter mode, but I assured him it was part of the dance and it would be taken care of.

When the fire came out, my son wanted to go into junior firefighter mode, but I assured him it was part of the dance and it would be taken care of.

 

As I watching the ladies get ready, I couldn't take my eyes off there awesome wardrobe.

As I was watching the ladies get ready, I couldn’t take my eyes off their awesome wardrobe.

 

These were some of the best dances, but for some reason my kids enjoyed the indigenous high-energy dancers better.

These were some of the best dances, but for some reason my kids enjoyed the indigenous high-energy dancers better. They’re into stomping.

 

As we hung out and watch all the dance troupes take the stage this chic blew me and my kids away with her awesome make-up. My son thought it was so cool he decided he wanted to get festive too.

As we hung out and watched all the dance troupes take the stage this chic blew me and my kids away with her awesome make-up. My son thought it was so cool he decided he wanted to get festive too.

 

It took a while to get to the face painting artist and after my son realized that he couldn't have Batman, he settled on a Dia De Los Muertos masterpiece. He was happy with it.

It took a while to get to the face painting artist, but the wait was worth it. After my son realized that he couldn’t have Batman, he settled on a Dia De Los Muertos masterpiece that had him smiling. My daughter wasn’t into it, she preferred to keep stomping to the music.

 

All of this happened to honor my friend, my dad, my TV watching buddy, the laugher of my jokes, the partner to my adventures, the listener to my stories, and the defender of my dreams.

All of this happened to honor my friend, my TV watching buddy, the laugher of my jokes, the partner to my adventures, the listener to my stories, and the defender of my dreams. It all happened to honor my dad and to remember his life.

 

 

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It Finally Happened

5 Jun

At first sight, you’re hopeful. It looks good. It sounds promising.

But then you show up and realize, it’s not alone.

Free is never alone. It has company.

Fine print.

Nothing good usually comes out of it. At least for me.

At the market it’s usually buy one and then get one free. It’s never just get one free.

At the museum you think it’s free and then there’s the box. They put it in the middle with big bold letters, so you can’t miss it. The senior citizen who’s volunteering at the desk smiles and looks you in the eye while she points at the box with the word “DONATION” on it

. Guilt consumes you. It’s because you’re a good person. So you open your wallet and give in.

On Wednesday you make it to Happy Hour at the Regal Beagle, but then realized that it’s not every Wednesday. It’s every other Wednesday and you just happen to be bad at math and calendars. You get no free appetizers.

On your honeymoon they say free helicopter tour or free surfing lessons. You get excited and you sign up. You’re dumb like that when you’re a newlywed. When you get to the location for your free voucher, you realize you have to sit in on a three-hour seminar for timeshares. Eventually you get the helicopter ride or surfing lesson. But it wasn’t for free, you paid with your time.

Free was just a myth to me. Some people are lucky they get free all the time, but unfortunately I’m not part of that club. I’ve been trying to be, but I’ve been unsuccessful … that is until this week.

I actually got something for free. Completely free. Well my kids did, but I savored in the fact that I was able to get it for them. Free admission to the children’s museum and not just any museum, but the kind that lets you touch and climb everything and it’s not breakable. My kids love it.

In truth I was a little skeptical about it being free. Considering my track record I thought there had to be some fine print. Had to, but no. There wasn’t. They enjoyed four hours of exploration through some awesome exhibits featuring physics, astronomy, archaeology, and earth science. And apparently so did a lot of other kids. A lot. This is the side effect of free. Crowds. Massive crowds, but we managed to get there early enough to maneuver our way around them. When you get free, it’s good to show up early.

Free is a good thing. Especially when it finally happens. It should be cart-wheel worthy.

 

The outdoor physics exploration area, which captured our attention for about an hour.

The outdoor physics exploration area, which captured our attention for about an hour.

 

Free brings out the awesomeness in people. My kids were actually sharing without fighting. It was great.

Free brings out the awesomeness in people. My kids were actually sharing without fighting. It was great.

 

Checking out his own strength and learning about kinetic energy. He didn't know he was learning it though.

Checking out his own strength and learning about kinetic energy. He didn’t know he was learning it though.

 

Climbing outdoors. Some kid didn't do so well ... gravity got the best of her.

Climbing outdoors. Some kid didn’t do so well … gravity got the best of her.

 

Focused on checking out fossils. I've never seen her sit so still for such a long time. I need to get some fossils at home.

Focused on checking out fossils. I’ve never seen her sit so still for such a long time. I need to get some fossils at home.

 

This free thing was so good, we even got a free concert. Scottish bagpipes rocking the joint.

This free thing was so good, we even got a free concert. Scottish bagpipes rocking the joint.

 

The free thing rose to the next level when my son got a free lesson. Free was good that day.

The free thing rose to the next level when my son got a free lesson. Free was good that day.

 

 

Sandbox List Adventure VII: The Price I Pay for Wearing Flip-Flops and Sunscreen During Winter

25 Feb

Now while most people are suffering through cold rainy weather and snow storms with temperatures in the 20s or 30s, here I was in Southern California with a 70-degree day. Sun shining and just the right amount of poofy clouds. I thought … I really need to get out of the house. I’m taking my sunshine for granted. I could be shoveling snow and using all kinds of Chapstick, but instead I have the opportunity to wear flip-flops and use sunscreen.

And so I showed some appreciation. I dragged myself out of bed and gave in to my kids’ break-of-dawn excitement on Sunday morning. Normally I just want to sleep in, you know every parents dream. Sleep in until 9 a.m. without disturbance. But today was not the day for that dream. I woke up just like every other day  …  at 7 a.m. and instead of rolling over and turning on Sunday morning cartoons — the awesome human snooze button for parents trying to savor another thirty minutes of sleep in the morning — I dragged myself out of bed and declared a beach day.

But this beach day would include an adventure to be crossed off the Sandbox List. And in truth it was an adventure for three. It’s been four years (almost two years for my daughter) of summer beach trips, and I couldn’t believe that we hadn’t done this. I’ve always wanted to do that myself and I know my kids thought the idea was pretty awesome. There was sand flying everywhere and getting everywhere. But I took one for the team and they were ecstatic about it. After completing a pretty awesome sandcastle, our biggest one yet, complete with seashell decorations, I ventured into the all-time parent duty: Letting your kids bury you in the sand. Now no matter how tightly I tucked in my shirt, sand seemed to creep its way into various body cracks and breathing passages. But with my kids giggling, smiling, and laughing the grains of sand didn’t seem to bother me as much. It’s the price I pay for the privilege of wearing flip-flops and sunscreen during “winter”. This adventure might have only lasted fifteen minutes, but it was a quality fifteen-minute span. Something I hope they remember enjoying.

 

It first started with the castle. They had to practice working with sand and placing it in the right spot. I really didn't want to get too much sand in my face.

It first started with the sandcastle. They had to practice working with sand and placing it in the right spot. I really didn’t want to get too much sand in my face.

 

After completely destroying the castle Project Bury Mom began. They started at the bottom.

After completely destroying the castle Operation Bury Mom began. They started at the bottom.

 

This where I thought ... well maybe this might not be a great idea. However my son and daughter disagreed, they continued using their green and blue buckets, in addition to their hands and any other sand toys they could find.

This is where I thought … well maybe this might not be a great idea. However my son and daughter disagreed, they continued using their green and blue buckets, dump truck, bulldozer, hands and any other sand toys they could find.

 

The final step of Operation Bury Mom complete. My son wanted to add seashells, but I told him my face wasn't a good place for decoration. So he added a little bit more sand.

The final step of Operation Bury Mom complete. My son wanted to add seashells, but I told him my face wasn’t a good place for decoration. So he added a little bit more sand.

 

Sanbox List Adventure V: Checking Out the Stars and The Sun, And Carrying More Quarters

1 Feb

I don’t know why kids always want to check them out. They’re never really clean, probably slathered in germs. They’re always out of focus and for some reason they’re really heavy, probably made out of some 1960s submarine or Master Driver parts. I don’t know, but it’s heavy. And for some reason kids always become explorers whenever they see them. They have to see through it. Just have to.

Telescopes.

I’m usually all out of quarters. I never have one. Ever. Or I say that it’s broken. It’s always broken. This is usually followed by disappointment, a sigh, and a shaking of the head.

But today he got his chance. We ventured out to the observatory to check out the moon, stars, planets, galaxies, that weird, cool pendulum thing that still puzzles me even after the very detailed explanation by the tour dude. And telescopes. Many of them. He got a chance to look through as many of them as he wanted, as did his one-year old sister. None of them were broken. And while they were enjoying the wonders of outer space, I found myself enjoying the whole process. I realized … I shouldn’t always be in a rush, I should always carry Purell, and most importantly I should carry more quarters.

 

He was excited that we didn't have to park a mile away. The parking lot is extremely small and for the first time in history I got front-door parking to something. He ran towards the entrance.

He was excited that we didn’t have to park a mile away. The parking lot is extremely small and for the first time in history I got front-door parking to something. He ran towards the entrance.

 

 

Checking out some elements that are found in outer space explosions and other star stuff.

Checking out some elements that are found in outer space explosions and other star stuff.

 

The pendulum thing.

My daughter was mesmerized by the pendulum thing.

 

Once we got to the stars ... everyone was in a wow-state of mind.

Once we got to the stars … everyone was in a wow-state of mind.

 

My daughter thought Saturn was pretty cool.

My daughter thought Saturn was pretty cool.

 

My son thought Mars was cooler. There was a microscope and scientific data involved.

My son thought Mars was cooler. It was so cool that he took his hat off. There was a microscope and scientific data involved.

 

And this ... this was the best part for both of them ... exploring through the scopes.

And this … this was the best part for both of them … exploring through the scopes.

 

And although the best part of the day for my kids were the telescopes and exhibits, my favorite part of the day was watching the sunset with my kids. Our first one together.

And although the best part of the day for my kids were the telescopes and exhibits, my favorite part of the day was watching the sunset with my kids. Our first one together.

 

 

Sandbox List Adventure III: Conquering The Angry Birds

17 Jan

$2.99. It only costs $2.99. I didn’t think that something at the end of the CVS aisle would be worthy enough of a high-five moment from my son. But seeing how it involved something called Angry Birds it was on.

For some reason Angry Birds has taken over my life here. That little theme song, forget about it. I hear it every weekend. For some of you that aren’t aware, it’s a game that can be played on an iPhone — A knock-down castles kind of game using slingshots and wingless birds with special destructive powers who are in search for their eggs which evil green piggies have stolen. But seeing how I don’t have an iPhone, I hadn’t been aware of the phenomenon until a few months back when my dude purchased a fancy phone. I’d like to think it’s a game of logic, skill and a little bit of physics. At least that’s what tell myself as a justification for letting him play that particular video game in the car.

But apparently the game has become so popular that they’ve branched out beyond the video game. They’ve got coloring books, pillows, folders, stickers, towels, temporary tattoos, pencils, card games, graham crackers,  and hacky-sack thing-a-ma-jigs. They even have Angry Birds Star Wars. We have all of these either through gifts or purchases of our own, these Angry Birds have crept into every room of the house.

So when my son saw the puzzle, he felt the need to add it to the collection. I felt the need to strongly disagree. But then I realized, he’d been talking about completing a jigsaw puzzle for a long time now. And seeing how this particular puzzle would probably interest him more than a landscape with horses on it, I figured I’d give it a second glance. So I looked at the package. It was small enough. 100 pieces. Might not be too bad.

“You could use a coupon,” he said.

And seeing how I had a CVS bonus reward coupon for five dollars, I thought why not?

I thought we’d be using it for a rainy day. But no, the sun was shining, and it was a cool 65 degrees today. And while his sister was napping he took out the pouch and said it was Angry Bird puzzle time.

The 100-piece portrait of the three Angry Birds and their arch nemeses was waiting. It didn’t seem like much, but once out of the bag, I thought yeah … this may take longer than nap time. I might need a little chocolate for this one.

 

It looked small and innocent enough, but 100 pieces of anything is a lot. No matter what.

It looked small and innocent enough, but 100 pieces of anything is a lot. No matter what.

 

The Beginning.

The Beginning.

 

We found the corners.

We found the corners.

 

After a while he was getting a little frustrated that it wasn't looking like anything. But then he found the eyes, the beaks, and the piggy noses. And then it was on. The puzzle excitement was on.

After a while he was getting a little frustrated that it wasn’t looking like anything. Just a bunch of green and brown background. But then he found the eyes, the beaks, and the piggy noses. And then it was on. The puzzle excitement was on.

 

Then we hit a road block and nothing seemed to fit. But as I stood up to get the baby who had woken up from her nap my perspective had changed and then a lot more pieces started falling into place. Just like life. I didn't think I'd get a life lesson reminder while conquering Angry Birds.

Then we hit a road block and nothing seemed to fit. But as I stood up to get the baby who had woken up from her nap, my perspective had changed and then a lot more pieces started falling into place. Just like life. I didn’t think I’d get a life lesson reminder while conquering Angry Birds.

 

And now we were getting close ... the excitement was building and to my surprise after about an hour he was still very much into the project.

And now we were getting close … the excitement was building and to my surprise after about an hour he was still very much into the project.

 

And wouldn't you know it ... just as we were about to finish the last piece was missing. Duuuuuude. Do you know what that did to a person like myself. Ugh. The agony. I searched for about 15 minutes was victorious when I found it under the couch, where the baby had probably thrown it.

And wouldn’t you know it … just as we were about to finish the last piece was missing. Duuuuuude. Do you know what that does to a person like myself. Ugh. The agony. I searched for that piece for about 15 minutes and was victorious when I found it under the couch, where the baby had probably thrown it.

 

Our masterpiece completed. Hi-fives and juice boxes all around.

Our masterpiece. Hi-fives and juice boxes all around. Another sandbox list adventure complete.