Monday, November 24, 2014

Ticket Giveaway for LA Opera's Family Program!

Domingo Family Program welcomes all ages to an exotic adventure with "Florencia en el Amazonas"

Scenes from Florencia en el Amazonas

All aboard for an operatic adventure, as LA Opera's Domingo Family Program welcomes families to explore an exciting river journey along the Amazon River!

On Sunday, November 30, the matinee performance of Daniel Catán's Florencia en el Amazonas will feature themed activities for the whole family to enjoy while learning more about the opera and its fascinating Amazonian setting. The dynamic staging of the opera features a flying river spirit, intoxicating choreography, colorful projected animation and a 42-foot long steamship that rotates on the stage. Domingo Family Program activities are free with ticket purchases, with half-price tickets available for children from 9 to 17 when purchased with an adult ticket.   

"I love to see parents and grandparents with their children at the opera," said Plácido Domingo, the General Director of LA Opera. "It’s so important to introduce them early to the joy of the classical arts. From my own experience, I know that when families come to the opera together, it creates a special bond, with beautiful memories that last a lifetime."
Scenes from Florencia en el Amazonas

Scenes from Florencia en el Amazonas
Pre-show activities begin at 12:30pm in the Fifth Floor Salons of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion (located at 135 N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90012). Teaching artist Peter Kors will lead enjoyable and inspiring acting workshops that explore themes from the opera and help youngsters understand the elements of theater. Exhibit interpreters from the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles will showcase specimens of flora and fauna relating to the opera's setting on the Amazon River. The performance itself will begin at 2pm and will last until approximately 4:10pm.

After the performance, participants will have the opportunity to meet the cast at a special Domingo Family Program reception in the Fifth Floor Salons.

Booster seats are available to help small children get a better view of the performance. Booster seats can be picked up from the coat check stand located on the Grand Avenue side of the main lobby. You can also reserve booster seats in advance to have them waiting in your seating locations when you arrive. To reserve booster seats, simply email Garrett Collins with your seating location at

Tickets for the November 30 Domingo Family Program performance of Florencia en el Amazonas start at $17 for adults, and are now available for sale in person at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion box office or by phone at 213.972.8001. (No online orders.) Tickets can also be purchased for LA Opera's next Domingo Family Program performance: Rossini's rollicking comedy The Barber of Seville on March 8, 2015.
Scenes from Florencia en el Amazonas

To enter the giveaway for 2 adult tickets and 2 child tickets for the November 30th show, please send an email to hijola AT yahoo DOT com with your name & cell phone.  Winner will be chosen Tuesday, November 25 at midnight.  Good luck!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Upcoming Events 2014

Cut a virtual snowflake!

Until December 23:  Marionette show - free - 7pm - 3314 Country Club Drive, Lakewood
Until December 24: Have Santa send a personal greeting to your child! - free
Until December 25:  ABC Family's 25 Days of Christmas movies
Until January 3: Festival of Lights, Mission Inn, Riverside - ice skating
Until January 11: CHILL at the Queen Mary - $40/adults, $20/kids
Until February 15: Monarch butterflies in Goleta, CA

November 22-23: 46th Annual Pow Wow at OC Fairgrounds - $5 adults
November 30: Handel's Messiah Sing-Along - Nixon Library - FREE
December 1-30: See the lights at the Mission Inn
December 6: Winter Wonderland - Snow play! - Los Alamitos - Free
December 6-7: Victorian Christmas at the Banning Museum - Wilmington
December 11: Holiday Sing - Cypress
December 13: Naples Island Holiday Boat Parade 6pm
December 13: Holiday Living History - Dominguez Adobe - Carson
December 13-14: Prince of Peace Pageant - Wardlow Blvd between Bellflower & Spring - Free
December 16: Free day at South Coast Botanical Garden - Rancho Palos Verdes
December 18-19: Holiday Open House at Rancho Los Alamitos - Free
December 25: Christmas
January 1, 2015: New Year's Day
January 20: Free day at South Coast Botanical Garden - Rancho Palos Verdes
February 5: Homeschool Day at NHM & La Brea Tarpits - free
April 20: Homeschool Day at NHM & La Brea Tarpits - free
June 17: Homeschool Day at NHM & La Brea Tarpits - free
June 18-20: Great Homeschool Conventions - Ontario
June 25-28: CHN Family Expo - Torrance
July 17-August 16: OC Fair
August 6-9, 2015:  HSC Adventures in Homeschooling - San Jose

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Logan's Candies!

This is a popular field trip during the holidays.  I would see it pop up each year and hear people raving about it.  So I was determined to go this year.  I have to say the procedure for securing a demo date is similar to making arrangements for a secret spy rendevous.  :-)  First, you call in July to get your instructions, then you send a postcard in August with all of the pertinent information.  Then you get a phone call in October.  That is when you actually choose your date & time.  And, then, you finally call back two weeks before your date to finalize your numbers.  Hijola!  And now I can say it's worth it. :-)

First of all, we had dinner at Vince's Spaghetti, a perfect spot for a big crowd.  They had no problem seating 16 people.  And by a miracle, we all arrived at the same time. (Photo by Kohl Tabori)

A handsome dad at Logan's.
(Photo by Kohl Tabori)

Our gigantic group enjoying the candy cane making demo.

Both colors of the candy cane start out the same, then color is added to the red part.

To make the white part, the candy is pulled over and over again.  It's amazing how it turns white with air is mixed in. (Photo by Kohl Tabori)

After the colors are arranged on the candy, the puller cuts off a small length to be bent into shape.

Freshly made candy canes!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Exploring Your Universe - UCLA

Sunday, November 17, Noon-5pm
Rain or Shine! (In case of rain, all outdoor activities will be moved indoors)
Free & Family Friendly!

This is the most exciting day of science all year in Southern California.  They have many activities and demonstrations open to the general public, including outside groups like STAR Eco Station.  Activities for all ages include workshops, faculty and graduate student talks, planetarium shows, solar telescope viewing, comet making, weather tours, dinosaur fossils, physics demos, and more!

This event includes participation from Astronomy Live!, the Departments of Physics and Astronomy, Earth and Space Sciences, and Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, the Center for Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology, and IEEE.  The program was developed by graduate students, faculty, and staff in each of these departments.


Astronomy (12:00 - 5:00 pm) (Court of Sciences unless otherwise noted):
- How the Sun works and solar telescope viewing
- Stellar Evolution
- Bottle Rockets
- Comet Making Demo
- Pocket Solar System and Asteroids
- Constellation Detectives
- Discovery methods for finding new worlds beyond our solar system
- Planetarium Shows (Mathematical Sciences 8th floor): Every half hour starting 12:30 pm! Pick up tickets to planetarium at the Information Booth.

Physics (12:00 - 5:00 pm) (Physics and Astronomy Building - PAB):
- Physics Demonstrations
- Lasers and Optics
- Waves and Vibrations
- Rotational Motion
- Electricity and Magnetism

Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (12:00-5:00) (Court of Sciences):
- Exploding Marshmallows--Expand marshmallows using a vacuum pump!
- Can Crushing--See how pressure can crush soda cans!
- Tornado-in-a-bottle--See and create your own vortexes!
- Cloud-in-a-bottle--See clouds being made right before your eyes!
- Portable Weather Station--Talk with experts about conditions and get an updated forecast for the day!

Chemistry (12:00-5:00 pm) (Court of Sciences):
- Find out how to make a bubble bomb for baths
- Find out what floats on top of what... and what floats on top of that!
- Watch food get frozen with liquid nitrogen
- Eat liquid nitrogen ice cream


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Art of the Brick - Glendale

We checked out the new LEGO exhibit at Forest Lawn Glendale.  It might seem like a strange place to have an art exhibit, but Forest Lawn has a long tradition of offering educational programs.  FL-Glendale also has an art museum where the LEGO exhibit is housed.


Art of the Brick by Nathan Sawaya 
May 21, 2013-July 21, 2013
Forest Lawn Glendale
1712 S Glendale Ave, Glendale, CA
Free admission and free parking
Museum is open Tuesday-Sunday 10am-5pm

Nathan Sawaya has specialized in creating sculptures out of LEGO bricks.  Sawaya’s ability to transform this common toy into something meaningful, his devotion to spatial perfection and the way he conceptualizes action, enables him to elevate what almost every child has played with into the status of contemporary art.

There are about 25 sculptures in this exhibit, ranging from a multicolor peace sign to large crayons with the paper coming off of one.  Most of the sculptures are of the human form.  A bust removing his face from his head, a boy looking at his reflection in water, a figure in despair.

This is a small exhibit, so don't drive an hour to just see this program.  Like I said this location also has an art gallery and the current display "Light and Color" is a collection of remarkable stained glass.  There is also an impressive display of bronze statues.  And in the Hall of The Crucifixion-Resurrection next door are hourly showings of The Crucifixion and The Resurrection paintings.  Walk out the back of the museum for restrooms and an amazing view of Glendale.

But don't stop there.  Forest Lawn Glendale is 300 acres and has its own sights.  Check out the mosaic of the Signing of the Declaration of Independence and the 13ft tall statue of George Washington.  There are, also, white swans on the lake.  Of course, many famous people are interned at Forest Lawn.  The mega famous like Michael Jackson are behind locked gates, but you can see the final resting places of such stars as Jimmy Stewart and Elizabeth Taylor.

And since you're already in Glendale, perhaps get a bite to eat at Americana at Brand.  This is a mall designed by the same firm as the Grove in LA.  I recommend the Granville Cafe on Brand Blvd outside of the mall proper.

Is someone in your family a science fiction fan or loves old bookstores?  Remember those old bookstores that used to be in every city?  Well, there's still one left in Glendale.  Mystery & Imagination is at 238 N Brand Blvd, Glendale, CA 91203.

If you're not tired, yet, you can end the day at the Griffith Observatory which is about 10 minutes away.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Blue Ribbon Festival - Music Center

The Blue Ribbon Children’s Festival is an annual admission-free program for fifth grade students to attend a live, professional performance at The Music Center, which has been running for 43 years.

The Children’s Festival is sponsored by The Blue Ribbon, a support organization of the Music Center, founded in 1968 by Dorothy Buffum Chandler.  The festival began in 1970 as part of The Music Center’s commitment to engage young people in the arts, and is one of California’s longest ongoing free arts education programs.  More than 700,000 children have participated in the festival since its inception, and for many, the festival is their first experience at a live performing arts event. 

I was blown away by this amazing opportunity for our students.  Individual homeschooling families may RSVP, but it's a lot more fun to attend in a group.  Reservations are accepted around the middle of January with materials being mailed out a month later.  Parents and students are free.  Although, the recommended age is 11 years old, they have no problem allowing 6-18 year olds enjoy the show.  Families also get complimentary parking.

There is an optional, audience participation portion so you may want to schedule in a rehearsal.  Families could also practice while they are waiting to enter the theatre.  After parking in the garage, you up the stairs or escalators to the plaza.  There are 3000 public school kids waiting for the show, but look for the information table in the middle of the plaza.  It is pretty easy to gather there while waiting for your party.

The cast of TRACES enjoyed the student performance

About 30 minutes before showtime, we were assigned a guide to take care of us.  She ended up telling us a bit of history about the Music Center.  The place looks completely different in the day time.  There was so much I never noticed before.

Finally, we got in line to wait to enter the theatre.  We were sent up to the Loge level and the show began.  The kids whooped and hollered and had a great time.  When the show ends, I recommend waiting until the last group leaves the theatre.  Because we were a small group, we ended up walking out to the front of the plaza to do our performance.  It was very relaxed, you could sit out the dance, but why?  The kids and parents had a wonderful time.

For more information, go to

Friday, September 21, 2012

The shuttle comes home

There's alot of excitement in the air as the shuttle prepares to fly over Southern California and land at LAX.  We would be in Seal Beach or on the Queen Mary to take in this once in a lifetime event, but as homeschoolers, we've been up early enjoying archery and the aquarium the past two days.  But this does remind me of the excitement of the shuttle program over the years. 

I remember when the first shuttle went up in 1981.  I can't believe it's been 30 years!  I had a part-time job at an aerospace company while I was going to school studying math and computer science.  The company set up TVs in conference rooms for employees to watch the historic moment.  One of our co-workers was actually on the program and he was more nervous than anyone.  As an engineer, you wonder if you've tested every possible scenario before you hand over your code/design.

Then my dad took us out to Lancaster to watch the landing at Edwards Air Force Base.  We had hoped the landings at Edwards would be commonplace, but soon the regular landing site was moved to Florida.

The shuttle was built in Southern California.  In college, we had a chance to tour a mockup of the orbiter (the part of the shuttle that goes into space and comes back) at Northrop.  An amazing piece of machinery.   It only makes sense for one to retire in Los Angeles.  The Columbia Memorial Space Center in Downey also plans to have a mock up of the shuttle for tours in the near future.

Because of my blogs, I've been getting invites to attend the press conferences regarding the shuttle arriving at the California Science Center.  I hope I will get an invite for it's arrival at the museum in October.

And the company where I worked when the shuttle first took off?  I joined them after graduating and we worked on the first GPS system.  Can you believe the smallest unit was the size of a backpack??  Now, we have it on our phones.  Incredible!