Thursday, January 31, 2019

Happy 2019!

Hope you all had a wonderful first month of 2019!

We were excited to celebrate New Year's Eve! We sipped sparkling cider. Lina loved wearing the  purple sequins light-up hat & pink sunglasses (picked up at a 99 cent shop) and recording a Happy New Year 2019 video (in Japanese) to send to folks.

Lina kicked off the New Year with a new drop-off weekly group class, a knowledgeable teacher and a half dozen tweens & teens who share a common interest (I will probably write about it later in the spring). She already made new friends and is enjoying it greatly.

This last week of January, the "polar vortex" reached NYC...bringing a touch of snow, lots of icy patches and dangerous subzero realfeel temperatures. We did not want to risk stepping outside when actual temps were below 15 degrees F. Luckily temps are rising quickly and by the Lunar New Year (Feb 5) it will be unexpectedly warm for winter here, probably upper-50's, and we will take advantage of that with a fun field trip.

Finishing up the 5th semester of piano, Lina warmed up my heart with her joyful final practicing of "Calypso Holiday" (Alfred's Basic Piano Library lesson book level 4) and her original composition (which she created at age 9), "Dancing Under the Stars." Now, she is learning a lovely classical piece "Sonatina Op. 157, No. 1" composed by Spindler.

 Entertainment faves (recent discoveries) of 10 3/4 years old tween:

* Fun card games (in tiny tins, you can fit in your pocket): Iota and Karma

* Coolest fiction books about a robot vs. wilderness: The Wild Robot & The Wild Robot Escapes by Peter Brown  (for grades 3-7; quirky combo of Lina's 2 favorite things, robots and animals, plus there's illustrations).

* Powerful adaptation of a song by a teen: 14 year old Grace VanderWaal performing "Clearly" (we voted for Grace when she won America's Got Talent as a 12-year-old singer-songwriter-ukulele player).

*New Animal Planet zoo documentary on TV: Crikey! It's the Irwins (inspiring to see the gentle, cheerful and bright Bindi Irwin, who was homeschooled at the zoo along with her enthusiastic brother Robert, which mother Terri said was one of the best decisions she ever made & one of the last things Steve insisted upon) - now Australia Zoo is on our travel wishlist, far more opportunity to touch & interact with animals than at U.S. zoos.

* Magical anime series for tween girls: Cardcaptor Sakura (has 10 year old girl as main character), there's 4 volumes of subtitled episodes to watch, we found this show after Lina read one of the omnibus volumes of the manga books.

* Movie about friendship between 10 year old girl and a wild animal: The Fox and the Child (was released a decade ago, the year Lina was born actually, but I didn't know about the film...thankfully, we found it recently for free with ads on a streaming service and she was mature enough to deal with seeing peril and sadness on the screen).

* Just finished watching all 3 seasons of sensational emmy-nominated A Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix  (great cast...Sunny steals the show, but the other 2 siblings and Olaf are close! Wonderful use of language, building vocabulary...with a mysterious, scary, sad and funny story, but not recommended for kids under 10!)

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Rockefeller Center XMAS Fun

We went to Rockefeller Plaza to walk around (between 5th & 6th Ave and between West 48th-51st St) to kick off our December holiday fun. Lina jumping with glee in front of the 72-foot tall, 12-ton, 75-year-old Norway Spruce Christmas tree:

She watched the ice skaters at the rink...

and posed for a picture with mommy...

I told Lina we would go shopping in person and she could choose gifts for herself, with the budget of $100 max for this Christmas (and we stuck to it).

We went to the 10,000 square foot Nintendo store for the first time.

They did not have a selection of older Pokémon games (to play on her 2DS or DS), since they are moving on to the new Switch player. I told her we could go to a GameStop store for her birthday to get a couple of older games on her list. Luckily, Nintendo, she found a Yo Kai Watch 3DS sequel game case (functions on 2DS) and the staff successfully hunted down the last remaining new game card, joy.

The 10 year old couldn't find anything she liked at FAO Schwarz (she actually prefers a well-curated local toy store) so we didn't buy any toys. I think part of it was the unpleasant struggle to make our way through the store and out  (staff allowed a large group of kids on a field trip to continue to pour in, despite how crowded the store was already).  We're still glad we visited just to have this special memory forever...she had forgotten about the toy store's existence. FAO Schwarz was established like 150 years ago in mid-town Manhattan, then closed 3 years ago, but it re-opened recently. It was nice to see employees at the front again dressed up as nutcracker toy soldiers.

and, FAO Schwarz is known for the large floor piano that one can still line up to play.

We loved the decorated tree at the American Girl store...

And she loved having lunch at the American Girl café, for the first time. She borrowed a doll for our table, looked at the lovely decorations and ate every bit of her yummy lunch.

We had never been to the American Girl store. She was never into their 18 inch dolls, so heavy & hard with serious expressions and too expensive. I figured these tween years, though, will be the last chance to shop for a doll for her...and thankfully, we saw plenty of 8-12 year olds around a smaller doll (like 14.5") with the most friendly face...they are called Wellie Wishers and she chose Willa (who also has a love for animals).

A great way to end the year...and a wonderful first 2-digit birthday year...because a month ago, about 2 1/2 weeks after her 9th baby tooth fell out, the right bottom canine fell out too. Yay. Now, we are halfway done, all naturally (age of 10, with 10 baby teeth gone and another 10 baby teeth waiting to go).

Lina had a healthy 2018, like previous years, so we're very grateful. No flu yet ever. Two common colds per year. No hospital stays ever. No food allergies ever. No ear infections ever. No need for vitamin supplements ever. Healthy growth and development, fit and energetic. A clean bill of health at 2018 wellness exams: 20/20 vision, perfect hearing, no cavities. Still sleeps 11 hours overnight.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Happy Halloween, Pika Pika!

Lina joyfully wearing her Pikachu baseball cap + pin + socks & Pokémon backpack. Lovely cookies to eat and beautifully carved pumpkins to see. Exciting week for the tween, not just because we love Halloween...but also because baby tooth #9 fell out.


Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Dog Parade & Costume Contest at Luna Park

For the 1st time, we attended Luna Park's Dog Parade & Costume Contest. We are dog lovers...and it was a treat to go to Coney Island and see over 120 dogs dressed in costumes...all of the dogs were super friendly & adorable. Some of our favs:

And the nice staff at Luna Park gave kids yummy Halloween treats.

Monday, October 8, 2018

FROZEN the Musical on Broadway

New Yorkers are reluctant to venture into the overcrowded tourist trap known as Times Square...but since it is a world-famous destination...I wanted to be sure that Lina will experience it again as a tween and remember the area when she grows up. We went to see Annie on Broadway a few years ago, but now with FROZEN the Musical on Broadway...that gave us a reason to visit one of New York's most iconic places again.

Lina was excited (as you can see from photos). She said "whenever there's a movie or TV show about New York, they show Times Square...the place of dreams & luxury."

The best part about going during October is there's LESS crowds (whew)...and my budget appreciated the extremely discounted prices (compared to summer and holidays). Re: FROZEN the musical, Lina said "it put me in a trance...the special effects and singing, plus acting, were soooooo felt like I was in a DREAM!"

We ate a delicious meal at Ruby Tuesday. Lina was craving meat big time...we had been eating mostly vegetarian meals for 2 months. We ended up swapping the dishes pictured below...since she is not a huge fan of burgers (I am, and the bacon cheddar cheeseburger - extra well done - was yummy), she absolutely loved the BBQ ribs and ate every bite, as well as the mashed potatoes...I took the onion rings (she doesn't ever want that side dish) and we split the fries. Re: lunch at Ruby Tuesday, Lina said "it was soooooooooooo yummy. I could eat it EVERY DAY....sauce on the ribs was messy but worth it...I felt like a lion eating the meat."

That meal filled us up for many hours. We explored Times Square for 6 hours total during this very warm fall day (80 degrees!)...& I did it without sugary treats, caffeine or alcohol, at any of the locations we visited...I noticed many adults around us indulged, though, to plow through the crowds without feeling so much stress.

We went to Dave & Buster's for the first only cost me 20 bucks for Lina to play arcade games for an hour and a half non-stop.

She enjoyed playing Candy Crush Saga for the first time ever. It was one of her favorite games at this arcade.

Re: Dave & Buster's, Lina said "they have much better games than Coney Island's arcade...Dream Raiders is great...motion, like a ride, in addition to the cool game..." The Dream Raiders motion platform video arcade game was definitely her favorite and she played it multiple times.

The Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots arcade game looked very cool.

We did go home with souvenirs...cute finger toys she won at Dave & Buster's...

AND I purchased at the St. James Theatre...a soft doll, Lina's favorite Frozen character, Anna, and the adorable reindeer Sven...these stuffed toys are now part of her beloved collection...nestled in her bed.