Legoland

Our family has been searching for great weekend family activities for a while. We have had a couple of staple choices such as the Aquarium, the Los Angeles Zoo, and the Natural History Museum, but none of these really truly capture our boys’ hearts. Flo would complain that when we went to the Aquarium the boys would spend more time running around and playing in the outdoor water area than actually looking at the fish.

Not that this is a big issue, but we needed to have a change of venue/change of activity so that we were engaging the boys in what they wanted to do as opposed to something we thought they’d be ready for. Unfortunately when we thought of theme parks we ran into two issues. Firstly, admission is expensive to theme parks. Even if you do an annual pass so that you can go multiple times, it still ends up being fairly expensive when compared to other attractions. Due to the cost we decided that we’d only really consider one theme park per year and get an annual pass for the one we liked. Secondly, most theme parks are actually geared to older kids. I think the perfect age for theme parks is the 6-13 year range. At this age kids have the durability to hang out for more than a couple of hours, they can probably walk a mile or two within the day, and they can actually start to go on rides by themselves. Unfortunately for us, Ravi and Max are still only 4 and 2 years old. That means we still have to deal with diapers and naps and the kids aren’t really interested in walking long distances. It also means that we really wanted an activity that was geared for about a half day (5 – 7 hours) at the most. And whatever we chose should not have an incredibly long drive as that tends to upset Max and he can end up crying on the trip. He’s good for about an hour if he’s well rested, but nearly every trip past two hours he has cried.

We did some research on theme parks and thought about giving Legoland a try. It’s a fairly inexpensive theme park compared to others and it’s geared to younger kids. They have a very handy height restriction map that helps you decide if your kids will enjoy the park. Ravi is about 37 inches and Max is barely 34 inches.

Map of Legoland Park with Height Restrictions for Rides included.

Map of Legoland Park with Height Restrictions for Rides included.

As you can see on the map above by 40 inches or taller you can do nearly the whole theme park and by 34 inches you can do at least half of the park. This means that both Ravi and Max can participate.

We went to Legoland for the first time about 2 months ago and the boys have been having a blast. They love a number of the rides (especially Captain Cranky’s Challenge and the Coastersaurus) and Ravi loves getting a Lego toy at the end of the day. Since we have annual passes, it has become one of the ‘de facto’ top weekend choices for our family. In fact, we’ve had so much fun going to Legoland as a family that we’ve invited some of our close friends (and their young boys) to go with us this weekend. We’ll see how well we do when there are 5 young boys running around all at once!

 

 

Mario.

 

Posing with the Lego X-wing Fighter and Maxie doing his 'action' pose

Posing with the Lego X-wing Pilot and Maxie doing his ‘action’ pose

 

While Mommy and Daddy wait in line little kids can play with Legos at multiple Lego stands. Win-win for everyone.

While Mommy and Daddy wait in line the little ones can play with legos at multiple Lego stands. Win-win for everyone.

 

 

Daddy and Ravi on 'Sky Patrol!' Having fun and making the world a safer place for everyone.

Daddy and Ravi on ‘Sky Patrol!’ Having fun and making the world a safer place for everyone.

 

Legoland is partnered with Star Wars and includes a bunch of Star Wars themed Lego dioramas. Here's one of the arena on Geonosis from Episode 2.

Legoland is partnered with Star Wars and includes a bunch of Star Wars themed Lego dioramas. Here’s one of the arena on Geonosis from Episode 2.

 

Ravi’s Half Circus Experience

A month ago my sister and nieces came to LA for a visit.  To celebrate their arrival grandpa and grandma bought tickets to take everyone out to the Ringling Brother’s Circus show at Nokia Theater.  There was much anticipation for this event since Ravi and Max have never been to a circus show before, and going there for the first time with their cousins was definitely going to be more exciting than anything else.

On the day of the show Ravi was so excited.  The show took place in mid afternoon and, as planned, Maxie napped on the drive over to the show.  Despite our warming, Ravi never even tried to rest.  He kept talking and singing during the drive, then half way through the show he fell asleep in my arms and didn’t wake up till the show ended.

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We were so sad that he missed these wonderful moments.  At least we have pictures to show him.

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-Flo.

Weekend Adventures of October 27th, 2012

We put weekend adventures on pause while Maxie had his swimming lessons.  Even though these lessons were only a hour each, the awkward timing interrupted our normal schedules for naps, lunches, and outdoor explorations.  As weather finally cool down, we were relieved to cancelled our lessons for this year.  Of course we will resume the lessons next spring. 

We wanted to do something fun last weekend.  First thing on our agenda was to eat something really good for a change.  I know there are good food in Redondo Beach area, but we were looking for something better, something exceptional.  Lunasia delivered.  I can’t believe we haven’t been there for that long!  Next stop, the Zoo!  We received their monthly activity letter about the pumpkin patch and can’t wait to take the kids there for the first time.

 

 

 I am sure you are thinking: ahhhh, that last picture of the boys hugging is so cute!  Well, let me tell you what REALLY happened.  That was Ravi’s attempt to pick up Maxie and lift him off the bench.  Of course even though the intention was good, but Ravi had either enough strength nor physical control to carry his little brother.  It ended with Maxie’s head hitting the ground and crying.  But Maxie was okay after 2 minutes and we didn’t scold Ravi.  They continued to play with each other after that.

We had another great weekend.  Next weekend is already shaping up to be a fun one.  Can’t wait to share with you soon. 

-Flo.

Weekend Adventures of August 31th, 2012

The boys had Friday off from school prior to the Labor Day Monday, which made last weekend a long four day weekend.  Mario and I felt courageous since last weekend’s success, so we planned to do something fun for each day.

Friday, we went to the Long Beach Aquarium.

Mario and the boys with the “shark”

Saturday was a off day since Ravi fell asleep as soon as we drove out.  Knowing his sleeping habits, we weren’t going to be able to wake him for hours.  So we drove around randomly for a while and visited the Indian Sweets and Spices store where Max enjoyed lots of Indian candies.

Sunday we went back to the zoo. 

Boys tried to “escape” into an elephant exhibit.

Monday we went for a walk on UCLA campus.  We parked our car outside campus, got great pastries from our favorite bakery, then walked all the way to the Sculpture Garden on north campus.  For those not familiar with the area, that is a long walk!  Mario and I took turns to push the stroller.  It was a great workout.  We rewarded ourselves with delicious cream puffs and Florentines.

Ravi tried to escape from daddy’s embrace.

I can’t believe we pulled this weekend off so well.  I thought at least one time during the weekend, one kid (or both) will have a melt down of some magnitude to spoiled the entire experience.  But nothing unpleasant happened.  The kids genuinely enjoyed their time out and didn’t cause any trouble.  Mario and I had a relatively easy time handling them and enjoyed ourselves as well.  It was a great weekend!

-Flo.

Weekend Adventures of August 25th, 2012

We began this year with limited family activities, which is to say we didn’t go anywhere or do do anything fun on the weekends.  Why not, you may ask.  Well, the kids were too much for us to handle.  At times, it felt like our noses were barely above water.  Between nap times, meal times, crying times, request to be carried times, … there weren’t much time.  Thank heaven’s we have finally out grown those days.  Half a year later, we have two pairs of capable hands on deck (Mario graduated from school), Max only requires one nap a day, and Ravi no longer needed to be carried.  So we have cautiously experimented with various activities.  For the past few months, our family has been going out to restaurants and doing more activities out doors, like to the beach or local parks, and these trips became easier with each passing week.  The successes of these weekends must have boosted Mario’s confidence too much.  When I asked him last Friday what he wanted to do on the weekend, out of blue he said: “let’s go to the zoo!” 

So off we went last Saturday morning.  We left home at 10:45 AM thinking we would have an early lunch before heading out to the zoo.  When we got there, Max has already fallen asleep.  So we got take out and couple of drinks instead.  By the time we got to the zoo, Max woke up in good mood and we were ready to take on the world.  We had a fantastic day.  We were out for five hours and half of it were spent inside the zoo.  The kids didn’t die, or even cry.  We saw interesting animals, though the most fasinating object was the mist fan.  Mario and I had a great work out by pushing the stroller and keeping up with the kids.  Instead of the expensive and crappy food at the zoo, we had delicious dim sum which was finger licking good. 

Arriving at the zoo. Max and Ravi are slowly warming up to the place.

Max enjoyed walking with daddy.

Max still wants to be carried, but much less than earlier this year.

The brothers enjoyed the “lair” exhibition.

Some lizards inside the “lair” exhibition.

Brothers walking hand in hand. This moment made all my hard work worth it!

What wonderful weekend we had!  This certainly up the bar for future weekends.  But what do you know, the challenger is already at the corner.  Next up, the four day Labor Day weekend!

-Flo.

 

Hair Cuts for the Boys

I used to give the boys (Mario included) haircuts, but I realized I sucked, so now we go out and get haircuts at grandpa’s (A Pa) usual spot.  This is definitely a win-win solution for me.  I no longer have to suffering through wiggling, crying, and post cut blaming.  Better yet, the lady we normally use is great with Mario and the kids, and only charges $8 per person for a fantastic cut.  She is so wonderful that we have been going to her long before the kids, on and off for over 10 years, and she treats us like family.

Even though we unconcisiously stretch out the time between haircuts, last weekend we decided we couldn’t wait any longer.  So we packed up the kids and headed to Monterey Park, where Mario refers to as “China Town.”  After a delicious meal of Peking Duck and dim sum, we arrived to the salon.  We got a system down for these haircut events.  Mario gets a haircut first, then he holds down the kids as they get hair cuts in turn. 

Max was the first kid to get a cut.  He was particularly brave this time, not a single tear.  Ravi enjoyed a cool marshmallow ice cream cone while waiting.

 

 

 

Unfortunately Ravi wasn’t as brave this time, a couple of tears came down as Mario wrestle him down into the chair.  The good thing is it didn’t take long to cheer him up again.  Ravi is a happy baby.

Another great weekend with the kids.  Life is good.

-Flo.

Weekend Adventure of August 11th, 2012

Could you believe we have never taken the kids to Chuck-E-Cheese?  To mitigate this oversight, we did just that last Saturday night.  Without counting the pizza dinner, which was a huge mistake, we spent $12 for all the coins we used that night.  Next time, we will go there and eat at home.  Both kids had fun.  We will definitely go back, but probably not too often. 

Max playing with the coins and cups

 

I also purchased a Gazillion Bubble Cannon for $19.  It is a really cool toy.  It can generate gazillion small bubbles (as stated in the product name), but also generate giantic bubbles, or the combination of two.  The kids absolutely loved it.  Unfortunately Ravi soon took monopoly which made Max cry.  The bubble solution that came with the package went very quickly.  I would definitely need to find out how to make my own bubble solutions if we are going to play with it more often. 

Max running after bubbles

 

 

Ravi running after the bubbles

 

We had a fun weekend. 

Flo.

Weekend Adventures of August 4th, 2012

The last three years have been very difficult for our family, as Mario worked and went to school part time, and I held a full time job while raised two babies.  We were in survival mode with our noses to the grind stone.  Everyday was a new challenge and we our only goal was to keep our noses above water.  Now that Max has turned 15 months old and Mario graduated, our lives are becoming easier and can finally take a deep breath.  One thing I have been wanting to do was to enrich our kids’ lives with new activities and experiences.  My goal is to introduce something new every weekend, with maximum fun at minimum costs.  I will attempt to capture all these experiences in the Weekend Adventures series of posts.

Ravi and Max love to play with water.  I used to fill up a big plastic storage box full of water and they would be occupied for at least half an hour.  So I thought maybe it is time to buy a kiddie pool.  A bigger body of water may lead to more fun.  So with $16, I was able to purchase a 6 feet wide plastic pool.

And the next day we went to the beach, and it was free.

See you next weekend,

-Flo.

Weekend Adventures, Jan’8 2011

The weather has been absolutely beautiful during the weekend.  The rain has finally stopped a week ago and most places have finally dried up.  Me and my dad took this wonderful opportunity to take Ravi out to play at the neighborhood park.

It’s been a while since Ravi and I been out, mostly because I have been attacked by waves of fatigue since I reached my second trimester.  Sometimes I am so tired I can’t get my butt off the chair.  These days I just lock the side doors and let Ravi run free in the backyard.  There’s a lot to things to play with in my parents backyard, rocks of all sizes to collect and pile up, various fruits to pick and look at, buckets of water to splash and drop things into…etc.  Ravi can usually spend a good hour to two playing there, while I can sit and watch some of the time (though most of time I would still have to follow him around).

Ravi loves the large play area at the park.  This time there weren’t any kids there so we had the whole place to ourselves.  The ground is almost completely dry and there’s only a little bit of water gathered on one side of the play area.

Ravi walking up the slide with A-Pa behind him

Ravi climbing up the slide

Ravi sliding down the larges slide in the park

Ravi jumping off the slide

Unfortunately Ravi got bored of the play yard in an hour.  After randomly walking on the grass for ten minutes, he wanted to be held.  This is the indication that he doesn’t want to play anymore.  So we took him home and back to the backyard!

Ravi showing us where he wanted us to sit

Ravi dropping table tennis balls into water bucket

The rain had made the soil very soft and sticky.  As a result, Ravi got mud all over his cloth and shoes.  My mom had to help me scrub the thick layer of mud off his shoes while I strip Ravi to his under cloth and put on a clean set after we finished playing.

Ravi's muddy shoes as a result of playing in the backyard

Its been a fun weekend.  I got to say I sensed Ravi enjoyed the backyard much more than the park, that’s probably because Ravi likes the unconventional toys much more.  He can play with a bottle and its cap for hours, pretend to pour water in, drink the water, feed it to whoever is willing to play along, put the cap on and take it off…  He knows where various little play areas and things are, and there are always new things to explore.  New fruits to look at and pick off the tree, new flowers grandma is planting.  My parents’ backyard is ever evolving, and it is never ending fun for Ravi.

-Flo.

Weekend Adventures, October 31’2010

This is the first “Weekend Adventures” post without any pictures.  Why?  If you were all by yourself and have to carry a 19 months old all the time, then how would you get a chance to snap a picture?  So that’s what happened last weekend.

Last weekend began just like any other weekend, Mario went to school Saturday morning while  I took Ravi to my parents home for the weekend.  The choice between staying home or go to my parents place was a simple one.  No help at all, versus getting fed, having a big backyard to have Ravi run around in, and my dad to help carry Ravi so I can go to the bathroom occasionally…  Of course I chose the later.  The highlight of the weekend was a Halloween party at my friend Alice’s home, and she lives less than a mile away from my parents place.  I got a cute dragon costume weeks ahead for Ravi and we were really looking forward to go and meet up with old friends.  Once we got there, Ravi was a bit alarmed with the unfamiliar environment and all the new people he saw.  He played with a little girl for a few minutes, then demanded to be carried.  As more and more people arrived, the more Ravi wants to be just carried.   So I spent the next two and half hours carrying him around.  Finally we got home and my dad was able to take over for me for a few minutes.  Boy did I feel my arms hurt at that time.  Good thing Ravi is skinny, else I wouldn’t know how I could carry him for that long.

The next day, my dad left for a business trip, so I had to take care of Ravi for most of the day.  Though my mom was around, Ravi doesn’t really like her to carry him as much.  It is probably because she tells him “no” all the time.  Good thing Ravi loves the backyard and his slide, but he constantly demands me to lift him to the top in order to slide down.  After lifting him a dozen times, my arms were feeling their old pain again from the day before.  Let’s just say I was in no mood to snap pictures when I did get a moment to rest.  My plan was to go home around 4 in the afternoon so daddy can help put on Ravi’s dragon costume and take some pictures.  That plan was ruined when Ravi vomited on his bed after crying non-stop for half an hour because he refused to nap.  So my mom had to help and replace his bedding and get them washed before we could leave.  By the time we arrived home it was already 6PM.  The sun has already set and everyone already very tired.  I was glad to hand over Ravi to his daddy and began all the house work that still needed to be done before the day ends.  By bed time, we realized that we still didn’t take pictures of his dragon costume.  Maybe we will try again Monday night.

One thing I’ve learned from this experience is to never accept an invitation if it means I had to go alone with Ravi.  I don’t think I could carry him for hours like I did on Saturday.  His need to be carried at a party is not new, I remember this pretty much happened every time I took him to a party.  This time was especially tough because work has been really demanding for the last few weeks and I have not recovered from it.  In any case, I am really looking forward to Mario getting a few weeks off from school around the holiday season.  To have him with us on the weekends will be so awesome!

-Flo.