Skyer’s Birthday

Nov 1st, 2015 Boyhood, Entertainment

So Skyer is now officially three.  Yikes.  It’s a truism to say it of course, but the time has flown by. Skyer’s turning three also means that we have been in LA for two and a half years.  That’s already half the time that we lived in New York.  Hand on heart, I can’t say that I feel half as connected to LA as I do NYC, but I guess you could argue that I am getting there.  In any case, and as we all know only too well, it’s not about you anymore.  In fact, it’s not really about you at all.  It’s about a collective.  And that’s a good thing.  In fact, it’s a great thing.

Events like this certainly help.  We took over a gazebo in one of our nearby parks and set up for our Lego themed celebration.  Word to the wise, if you are planning on hosting a children’s party first thing in a public park, be prepared to negotiate with the “locals” upon whose patch you might inadvertently be encroaching.

Without wishing to be too self-congratulatory, the party went off seamlessly and without a hitch. So, rather than philosophize about the passing years, or the yardstick that kids provide on measuring my own life, I’ll simply say we had a great time and let the pictures speak for themselves.

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We got the help of some professionals in setting up the Lego play area – complete with a phenomenon I had never seen before – “springy” sports Lego.  Which actually made a little game of basketball, soccer or hockey almost possible.

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The Lego villages were also a great hit.

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The puppy dog bounce house – a tried and tested party fave – also worked well and was – more importantly – bump, and tear free.  Although they do get pretty sticky and sweaty – even in October – in LA.

Lego partyBounce House

Cupcake and “happy birthday” time.

Lego Birthday

Then, what better way to burn off the sugar, than with some piñata thwacking?  This time it was poor old Emmet who was in the firing line.  The kids certainly seemed to rejoice in taking him down.

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Before we knew it, it was time to say goodbye and thank everyone for coming.

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Take me out to the sauna, er… sorry, the ball game

Sep 22nd, 2015 Boyhood, Sport

It would be hard to imagine a more fiercely hot day on which to choose to introduce the boys to organized professional sport.  LA Dodgers stadium on Sunday was a cauldron.  And not from the intensity of the competition between the Dodgers and the Pirates.

What can I say?  An oversight on our part.  The idea that somehow the 100 degree weather would be more bearable inside an immense four sided concrete structure, surrounded by thousands of other bodies all fiercely perspiring, had escaped us until we actually arrived.

Rarely, have so many, sweated so much, in pursuit of so little.

Ice cream, slushies, multiple bottles of iced water – you name it we chugged it, slurped it and quaffed it.  We held containers to our foreheads, tipped ice cubes down our backs and fanned ourselves with oversized foam fingers.  All in search of a momentary respite from the unrelenting heat.  And, even festooned in our brand new hats as we were – that we eagerly purchased on the way to our seats – we knew it was going to be a tall order.

In fairness to us, we did manage to make the best of it.  Although also in fairness I would suspect that a night game – or – let me think about this for a moment – a game played on any other day of the year, other than one that we chose, would have more bearable and enjoyable.  We stayed to the fifth innings.  Skulking in the shadows of the lower tier while taking in the game.

If the role of the parent is all about creating unforgettable memories for your children…well maybe not, but I don’t think it will be our last visit to the stadium.  Both boys seemed sold on the experience and the spectacle that unfolded before them.  The in-crowd entertainment, the hubbub of the fans, and the mere collective energy and focus that goes with watching sport definitely resonated.

I’m just not not sure who they felt had best earned their cooling-off shower at the end of game. The players.  Or us.

LA Dodgers StadiumLA Dodgers

It did not take long for Skyer to start to feel the heat.  We spent as much time going up and down the stadium steps in search of shade as we did sitting in our seats.  Think of it like a series of short bursts on the most crowded Stairmaster you have ever seen.  That also happens to be located in a sauna.  Filled with people at different points of the work-out – going up and down – feverishly juggling, drinks, snacks, all eager to get to their seats and carry on sweating some more.

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Skyer got especially into the game.

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Beachwood Boys Club – MVP on the day.

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So we cracked, and finally ran a lemonade stand

Sep 16th, 2015 Boyhood, Life

What can I say?  It was insufferably hot, we’d talked about it a lot and got the boys worked up into a little bit of a frenzy about it (note to self: – never, ever, mention anything to a toddler in passing. They just don’t get the concept), and there were still enough hiker traffic to justify doing it.  And – moreover – it was for charity, thank you very much.  More Rachel’s idea than mine and at a price where we were practically giving it away (25 cents), we rolled out the pitchers, the buckets of ice, our home made sign and set up shop.

Dare I say it? – there’s money in them lemons!

First off to the market for provisions.  (Barbecue afterwards, just in case you were wondering what any of that stuff had to do with making a glass of lemonade.)

Kids at the supermarket

Then down to some serious sign making…

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Next – wait for the punters to start flocking.  And in fairness, they did.  A lot of tourists who really wanted to have their picture taken with the sign and the boys.  I guess they thought it was part of the “Americana” experience.

Kids Lemonade Stand

Or maybe it was the free (homemade) cookie that came with your cooling beverage?  All THIS for 25 cents I hear you ask?  As I said, I feel as though the business model needs some work if we are going to maximize opportunity and market share. There were reports of a rival stand down the street where they were charging upwards of 50 cents per glass.  A significant premium.

Kids Lemonade Stand

With all that being said, we still managed to turn a profit.  Off to count the takings…

Kids Lemonade Stand

Finally time for some after work front yard chalk art.  Jaxon calls this one “Space Monkey”.  I actually think this is pretty good.

Kids Chalk Art

Labor Day, Malibu

Sep 12th, 2015 Beach, Nature

We ended summer much as we began it. In search of cooling off. You’d have to check your calendar twice to know it here in Los Angeles, but summer is at an end. Given the fact that we don’t have a swimming pool, we headed (once more) to the beach. It’s what you do in California.   As a boy from the suburbs of London, I’m still struggling to grapple with the concept that a sunny (key word here) beach lies less than an hour away. And yes, they really do surf on it!

Malibu Beach

The tide was high, the beach scarce and the surf and the swell aggressive. We splashed and ventured and got sandy and gritty for most of the day.  We are lucky enough to have friends who live on the beach – generous enough to open up their homes, their decks and their beach to us. We made camp under the timbers of one of the houses that – to me – always seem to defy the principles of engineering. Namely: a wooden framed house, founded on stilts burrowed into the sand and that seem to reach out to the ocean itself.

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I’m still finding little piles of sand around the house and in the pockets of shorts – but oddly enough it doesn’t trouble as much as it should. That’s the magic of Malibu I guess.  Or maybe I’m just learning to let go a little more…?  Nah, couldn’t be.

Science Center & Space Shuttle Endeavour

Sep 3rd, 2015 Discovery

We landed home from Paris with a bump.  What better place to go and check out when you have been jetting around Europe, than the Science Center and the Space Shuttle Endeavour?

No doubt about it, the Science Center is a great place.  The boys tend to like the tactile, interactive exhibits best.  Relatable, but also tangible.  The wind tunnel simulator was a particular favorite.  They like to push buttons, turn knobs and respond to flashing lights.  Most of what is on offer is aimed at an older age group but we just took it all in.  Allowing the space and the exhibits to wash over us and discover what we would.

After an hour of gallivanting around the museum, we lined up for the IMAX theater Hubble 3D show.  It’s a few extra bucks on top of the entrance fee for Endeavor and well worth it.  Narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio the film tells the story of the troubled Hubble telescope from launch to orbital repair while showing some pretty incredible images that Hubble captured of distant galaxies billions of light years away from earth.  The 45 minute movie was about ten minutes too long for Jaxon – who by then had tired of reaching out to touch the images as they came toward him – and ten minutes too short for Skyer who slept through the entire thing.  I was just glad to be in an air conditioned room.

Finally we got to see the Space Shuttle itself.  I confess, that I suspect I enjoyed it more than they did, but how many times in your life can you jump around with your brother under the belly of a machine that has been to outer space?

Space Shuttle EndeavourSpace Shuttle EndeavourNow let’s see how many of you can relate to this?  How many times do you set up a photo, get an obliging stranger to agree to take the shot (no selfies here) get everything framed perfectly… and then one of your subjects decides to look away at the critical moment?

Space Shuttle Endeavour

So you negotiate with your photographer stranger friend to snap a retake.  And one of the other subjects decides to look away from the camera!

Space Shuttle Endeavour

With all that being said, the Endeavour is pretty impressive.  I think they enjoyed the experience almost as much as I did.

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