Saturday, August 24, 2013

Horse Hair Designs

Lina decided to focus on the forelock (or foretop), the lock of hair on a horse's mane that's between the ears and falls forward on the forehead, to create original hairstyles for her stick pony. She just used a green popsicle stick to guide the hair into place.

She called this hairstyle "Unicorn":

She named this hairstyle "Cactus":

She said this style is called "One Eye" because one eye is not covered by hair:

She called this style "Human Man Hair":

She named this style "Kangaroo" because the top of the hair looks like kangaroo ears:

God, sunflower, L, dino and E.T. Plus, Haab = YUM

On Monday, the Bryant Park Summer Film Festival showed Steven Spielberg's 1982 film E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. It would have been cool to bring Lina to the park's lawn, in Midtown Manhattan, and sit with other families to watch the film on a giant outdoor screen...but I found out too late in the day to change our plans. Lina has seen the film (it's so nice to share movies with my daughter that I saw when I was a child) and she drew a picture of E.T. because she adores the alien.

Lina wanted to know how to spell "dog," so I wrote it on a sticky note. When she wrote it quickly in her own notebook...she wrote it backwards and I told her that she spelled "God." It fascinated her that by switching around letters one can spell different words. So, then she looked at the word "dog" and switched out the d for a b and spelled "bog." She remembered that a hog and a frog were in a "bog"...from Sandra Boynton's board book But Not the Hippopotamus. Lina decided to draw a picture of each word on the, just in case you were wondering what God looks like...a 5 year old has no doubt about it. Also, there's a picture of a dog and a picture of a hippo in a bog.

Lina surprised me when she asked for a sheet of construction paper and safety scissors...and decided to cut out the letter L, the first letter of her name of course, with no prior practice cutting out letters.

As you can read in SouthSlopeNews, earlier this month Hootenanny Art House experienced the darkness that lurks in the hearts of some in the big city...when their gorgeous sunflowers were cut down. When Lina heard about this...she quickly drew a picture of a sunflower, so I could email it to co-owner Kira Smith.

Sometimes I get worn down by New York City. Sometimes it feels like you are going against the flow of the stream, when you are in a good mood and trying to maintain a good mood and there are folks who want to take out their misery on everyone else. It helps when the community pulls together to help brighten everyone's day.

Lina got a dinosaur t-shirt from the gift shop at Field Station: Dinosaurs (as well as a large t-rex figure and a dozen tiny dinosaurs and they have already been key players in pretend adventures). She was thrilled when I drew the shirt's dino picture onto the chalkboard.

(Clearing out a lot of what we no longer need...I finally said bye last week to her umbrella stroller, which hasn't been used in 3 years...the only purpose now was to hold up a shirt so I could copy the picture easily.)

She loves taking digital photographs. She is quite good at figuring out which buttons to press, just by watching me do it. When I took the above photo of her taking a photograph of my drawing, she was saying "I have to delete the pictures that are blurry."

Since Lina was 2 years and 10 months old we have not missed one production at Puppetworks in Park Slope. This year we saw their winter puppet show "The Prince and the Magic Flute," and we caught their spring/summer puppet show Pinocchio, right before it ended. Pinocchio was as entertaining as their previous shows for kids ages 3-8. A very yummy surprise was nearby on 6th Avenue and 7th Street in Park Slope, a Mexican restaurant called Haab. They were very kid-friendly and warm and welcoming, offering us cold water (such a humid day!) even though we were just ordering takeout. It's wonderful to get something in the slope for only $4.25, but to have it taste amazing for that price (and be ready quickly) was awesome. I ate a tasty fish taco. Perfectly cooked fish, topped with pico de gallo, red cabbage and a delicious chipotle mayo. Later I found out Haab was known in East Williamsburg before they opened this new location in the slope (396 6th Ave) a couple of weeks ago. I hope lots of families visit, so it survives. One of the reasons I decided to try a new place near Puppetworks is because I was hoping to grab a slice of decent pizza on the way there...but, like so many places, South Brooklyn Pizza filed for bankruptcy a while ago and was just possessed by the city and the business was shut down.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Field Station: Dinosaurs

Busy summer...but we set aside time for a day trip to Secaucus, New Jersey (one stop from NYC Penn Station on NJ Transit) to visit  Field Station: Dinosaurs.

Many different kinds of dinosaurs to Apatosaurus (shown in the photo above and below), Tyrannosaurus rex, Triceratops, Stegosaurus, Ankylosaurus (armored body with club-like tail) etc. Even Pterodactyls like a Pteranodon with its wings spread or a Quetzalcoatlus perched up high on a rock make it a fun search. Some were so big, I couldn't get them head-to-tail in the photo frame (or else I would be off the trail to get the shot), including a 90-foot Argentinosaurus.

Lina has always loved dinosaurs...starting her collection with toddler dinosaur books (like Dinosaur Roar!), toys (she creates her own stories with the figures) and movies (How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?...and more dinosaur tales). Though she understands they are extinct, she (like many other kids there) thought the life-sized animatronic dinosaurs (with movement and sound) were real. This adds to the excitement and makes it more fun to pretend to be paleontologists and learn about prehistoric times...fossils and evolution.

There were signs along the 3/4 mile trail to find out some basics about each dinosaur (diet, size, geographic range, time period etc.) Since Lina enjoys walking up to four miles a day, this didn't feel like much of a trek. I chose a day when it was not hot and humid...and we were wearing comfortable footwear.

The easily recognizable Dilophosaurus (shown below), with the double crest on its head, probably ate fish. This visit was a nice introduction to predators of the past (most famous being Tyrannosaurus rex). Kids learned that scientists study fossil teeth to determine if a dinosaur may have been a carnivore, herbivore or omnivore.

Even though we saw many parents with infants, toddlers and strollers (currently it's free for kids younger than age 3), some of the tots looked scared and they will get very little educational benefit. Kids ages 5 to 9 seemed most engaged and may remember this day for a long time (the admission fee adds up for large families, so make it worth your while). Many day camps come here on weekdays in the summer, but somehow we avoided the clumps of huge groups while walking leisurely along the trail, watching the informative and visually unforgettable 3D movie Dinosaurs Alive!, attending an amphitheater live show and choosing items at the gift shop. But it was just too many groups of kids for us to get a seat at the tables when eating lunch at The Fire Pit (though we did find a bench nearby) or attempt to unearth treasures at the Fossil Dig Site or sit down for workshops and games.

Below is a snapshot I took at the entertaining Dino Whodunit show. Lina had a chance to briefly pet the T-Rex and it was thrilling for her. She told me "it's bumpy, mommy." Even older kids seemed to act like this was a real dinosaur...though the black pant legs of the person walking around wearing the 15-foot T-Rex puppet could be seen. Dinosaur ROAR!