The Norton Simon Museum – Pasadena, Ca

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The kids and I spent the some time recently at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena. This is a wonderful, smaller museum that has many great works of art to see. It is also incredibly affordable for families as all children under 18 get in free every day. Adults pay $12.00 each, seniors are $9.00 each, and parking is free.

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The permanent collection at the museum includes an impressive collection of Impressionist pieces by such artists as Degas, Monet, and Renoir works of art that younger children will most likely recognize and enjoy seeing. There is also art work by Vincent van Gogh, Paul Cézanne, Picasso, and many others.

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When we visited there was two special exhibitions which we were excited to have the chance to see. The first was A Revolution of the Palette: The First Synthetic Blues and their Impact on French Artists and my youngest was especially taken with this exhibit because of his interest in color. Here is a short podcast on the exhibit for anyone interested in it.

The other temporary exhibit was Fragonard’s Enterprise: The Artist and the Literature of TravelJean-Honoré Fragonard  toured through Italy with his first patron and was tasked with making copies of the art work they visited. Fragonard did this through sketching, and these impressive sketches were on display. The twins were most interested in this exhibit and spent a good deal of time studying them all.

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Here is the podcast on this exhibit:

At the end of this exhibit the museum had a place where visitors could sit and sketch pieces of art. This was a great idea that my kids loved. The museum provided paper, pencils, and clipboards to work on. The kids spent a very long time working on their art. How nice it is to just sit, study a piece of work, and draw what you see. It was very calming and reminded me that we need to do this more often.

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When you finish sketching you can keep your work or hang it up for others to see. Autry decided to hang her’s up while the boys both wanted to keep theirs.

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After exploring inside the museum we went to the sculpture garden outside. Due to the heat we did not stay long. Hopefully we will get back soon to explore it some more as it was very beautiful. We also need to come back to view all the other art we missed including a very impressive asian art collection.

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So if you are in the Los Angeles area and you want to visit an affordable museum then I highly recommend the Norton Simon. It surpassed our expectations and was a nice way to spend an afternoon.

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Salt Lake Comic Con – Doctor Who

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The kids and I had an opportunity to attend the Salt Lake Comic Con this last weekend, and I am so glad we made the trip. We have old friends that live in Salt Lake, and they told us about Comic Con, and how Matt Smith, Billie Piper, and Karen Gillian of Doctor Who would be there. When I heard that I knew I had to get tickets and take the kids.

The drive was great even if it was long. It took us about eleven hours to get there from Southern California. The weather was cooler though, and it was raining and snowing, which made for a nice change of scenery. Like all good homeschoolers, we passed the time listening to audiobooks (How to Train Your Dragon narrated by David Tennant and Cards on the Table, a wonderful Agatha Christie book that we all enjoyed). When we tired of audiobooks we jammed out with Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. Nothing makes me happier than to hear the kids sing all the old songs that I used to love so much when I was a teenager.

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Once we arrived in Salt Lake City we headed straight to Comic Con. We only had a few hours there as it was late, but the next day we spent the whole day there and had a great time. Honestly the only reason the kids and I went was for the Doctor Who panel and photos, and that was all on Friday, our main day there. We spent the day browsing through all the booths, standing in various lines (for hours) and watching the Doctor Who panel.

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Of course our favorite part of the day was taking photos with the Doctor and his companions. I don’t think the kids will be forgetting this day anytime soon!

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We headed home on Saturday and stopped in Vegas for a night. It was better for me to break the drive up, and I cannot resist a stop in Vegas. A slot machine had my name on it (damn you Wonder Woman slot machine that reminded me of my childhood!) and I had some down time while the kids hung out in our hotel room. It was a wonderful short trip (even if Autry was a little under-the-weather), and just what we needed to break up the winter blues.

Weekend Fun

A selfie of us girls before we head up to Long Beach.

A selfie of us girls before we headed up to Long Beach.

My mom, the girl, and I went to the travel show in LA today.  It was so much fun for us as we are planning a trip to Europe soon. We were lucky enough to hear Rick Steves talk which we all enjoyed. The girl and I  watch all of his shows so to see him in person was a delight.

photo 1 (27)We were especially excited to meet him and get his autograph and a few pictures too.

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While the girls were out at the travel show the boys were at an antiquarian book fair in Pasadena with their grandfather.

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They seemed to have had as good a time as we did. For two boys who love and collect books the fair was heaven.

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The boys came back with over 60 photos of books. Here are a few of the their favorites.

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Wordless Wednesday – The Southwest Chief

We finally made it home via The Southwest Chief. It was a different route than what we took to Chicago which made it interesting. We went through Colorado, followed the Santa Fe Trail, headed into Utah, and then (while we were sleeping) made it the rest of the way into California. It was a quicker trip than the one we took out on The California Zephyr with a more modern train which led me to enjoy the trip home more.

Anyway, enough with the talking…this is a Wordless Wednesday. Here are some pictures from our journey.

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The Scorpion Submarine and Doctor Who

Today the twins went to Long Beach to see a Russian submarine from the Cold War era, The Scorpion Submarine.

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Then they came home and watched the latest Doctor Who episode, Cold Warwhich takes place on a cold-war Russian submarine. I have never tied an educational experience into a Doctor Who episode before, and I have to say it was one of my more brilliant ideas.  (yes I like to give myself a pat-on-the-back sometimes).

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The twins and their Grandpa had a great time on the Russian sub, and they came home talking in Russian accents. They proceeded to show me all their pictures they took on the submarine and told me all about it.

This is where the torpedoes would be launched from.

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This is the communication room.

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Here they are in the War Room discussing strategy.

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Tru is looking through the periscope while Autry goofs off.

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After sharing everything with me we all sat down and watched the latest Doctor Who episode. What a cool experience for them to be on a Russian sub and then watch an episode about it. We all loved the episode, even those of us who were unable to go on the field-trip today (Decca was feeling under-the-weather).

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A Day at the Beach

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The kids and I spent today at the beach, and we had a wonderful time.

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We have been working hard on school all week, and I woke up this morning feeling a very strong need for a day out. I guess I needed to re-charge my batteries, which we all need to do from time to time.

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My mom has a studio in Laguna Beach, so we dropped her off at her studio and went down to the shore (she joined us later). It was foggy and a little cold, but it was relaxing.

Exploring the rocks and caves, listening to the crashing waves, watching the tide come in, posing for pictures…it all made for a fabulous day.

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I appreciate days like this, carefree days with the kids and my mom. Days were we make memories, enjoy the nature around us, and re-charge our spirit.

Nature Is Calling

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The kids and I have been sick for nearly three weeks, and for much of this time we were all stuck in the house, not getting out much except to walk the dog and run to the store. I hate being cooped up, so it wasn’t the most enjoyable time for me (plus I was taking care of three sick kids).

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It was also incredibly cold, down to the thirties at night, for much of that time (cue the eye rolling of all the people who don’t live in warm-weather areas). Even if I had the energy to get outdoors it was just too cold for this wimpy Southern Californian.

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The last few days though it has been incredibly warm and beautiful. And the kids have been healthy, no more bronchitis keeping Decca up all night, no more emergency room visits, no more runny noses and irritability. It has been wonderful.

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Yesterday the kids and I took a long walk/scooter ride around the neighborhood, and this morning I woke up early to take Kingsley for a hike up a local hill.

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After watching the inauguration today, the kids and I went down to the beach. It was so nice to take a long walk on the beach enjoying the warm sun and the cool water.

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It made me feel so energized and happy, ready to tackle the week.

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Lincoln

The kids and I went and saw Lincoln today. It was a very moving film that all of the kids enjoyed. The twins especially liked it and declared it the best movie they have ever seen. Decca was equally enthralled by it even at it’s long running time.

This summer the kids and I listened to Chasing Lincoln’s Killer while driving cross country, and I was amazed at how interested Decca was in the story. Unlike the twins, he has never been very engaged with history, but this story seemed to catch his interest. We studied Lincoln and the Civil War a little since then, and I knew he would want to see the movie. The length is a little long for a nine-year-old (especially if your child is not interested in the subject), but Decca stayed interested through it all, and I am glad I took him along. It is a must-see film, not only because of the subject, but also because of the wonderful film-making and powerful acting.

Fair warning though, although there is not much I objected to in the film, the previews were graphic and very inappropriate for children. I knew this would most likely happen, as I have very little faith in the rating system, so I was prepared. Even so I was appalled at what previews they allow before a PG-13 movie that will most likely be seen by children 13 and younger. If you have plans to take a younger teen or child I would enter the movie about twenty minutes late and avoid the previews all together.

Other than that it was an excellent movie and I highly recommend it.

Happy Birthday to my Youngest!!

Decca turned nine today. I know all parents say this, but I can’t believe he is getting so old! It seems just like yesterday that he was turning one, and here he is already nine. It is harder for me to watch my youngest get older,  but I am looking forward to watching him grow. He is such an interesting kid, and I can’t wait to see how much he changes this year.

For his birthday I surprised him with a birthday at Disneyland. The whole family helped plan it out, and he never knew we were going to Disney until we arrived at the hotel gate. He is a funny little guy sometimes. He was so overwhelmed by the surprise that he got very upset. He wanted to go home immediately, and he actually broke out in a rash all over his face and neck. The twins were upset at his reaction, so I sent them into the hotel with my mom, and Decca and I stayed outside to talk things over.

Sometimes I forget how sensitive Decca is, especially now that he is not struggling with selective mutism anymore. He is shy, and he does get overwhelmed by situations that he is not expecting. But he wanted to stay, and after a little while of talking it over and adjusting to the idea, he came into the hotel. After being inside the Disneyland Hotel for a few minutes, he was so happy. He enjoyed every minute of our two days at Disneyland, and I am sure he will always remember this birthday!

Happy Birthday Decca!